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prompted a public benefactor to assist in their art-culture, and to contribute so greatly to their enjoyment.
The foundation of this Library was considered for the first years of its existence as the appropriate finishing and supplement to our common school system. This is still broadly true, but so widely have its educational uses been advanced, that it now may well supplement the highest scientific and literary institutions. This is its great attraction, that the humblest as well as highest in intellect and cultivation may find here the instruments which he needs for his mental progress. It is, as it were, a universal academy of arts and sciences, of history and archæology, of philosophy and belles-lettres, issuing no diplomas, but of which residence confers membership.
In conclusion, the Trustees would not omit to speak in commendation of the zeal, attention and fidelity, for the most part manifested by the numerous officials of the institution. During no previous year has the work required such patient assiduity, and the Trustees are happy to place upon record their appreciation of the services rendered.
PUBLIC LIBRARY, Nov. 24, 1869.
W. W. GREENOUGH.
E. P WHIPPLE.
JARVIS D. BRAMAN.
JAMES M. KEITH.
REPORT OF THE EXAMINING COMMITTEE.
By the Ordinance establishing the Public Library, it is required that a Committee of five persons, elected from the citizens of Boston, with a member of the board of Trustees as chairman, shall annually examine the Library, and report generally on its condition and administration. The importance of this provision is obvious. It yearly brings the Library into judgment before the great body of the citizens, for whose benefit it was organized. The Committee for the year 1869 have attended to their duties, and beg leave to submit the following
The Superintendent of the institution has so thoroughly exhausted, in his Report to the Trustees, so many of the topics which would naturally attract the attention of an examining committee, that it is unnecessary here to recapitulate facts which he has investigated with such patient labor, and classifięd with such admirable skill. He has not only given a complete statement of the condition and management of the Library he so ably superintends, but he has gathered, through a wide correspondence with American and European librarians, a great variety of interesting facts illustrating the principles on which the libraries of the world are generally conducted, and has thus furnished the materials for comparing the administration of
other public libraries with our own. In the opinion of the committee, his report is in many respects an invaluable addition to bibliothecal knowledge.
Following the custom of their predecessors, the Committee, in their examination, have directed their attention to the Books, the Building, the Circulation, and the Administration.
The number of books in the Library is almost 153,000, show ing an increase for the year of 8,685, a larger number than has been added, by the ordinary means of increase, in any other year since its establishment. The Upper or Bates Hall now contains almost 124,000 volumes; the Lower Hall, nearly 29,000. The collection in the Bates Hall is one of great valuc, indicating comprehensiveness of plan in the selection of books, and being almost equally rich in the departments of general literature, history, philosophy, theology, medicine, jurisprudence, politics, political economy, and the arts and sciences. In French, German and Italian literature it is unsurpassed, and probably unequalled, by any other public library in the country, in respect either to the choice of authors or the excellence of the editions. The best new works published in the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy are annually added to its treasures. With the exception of the Library of Congress, it offers to the student the largest collection of valuable books on the American continent. In passing through its alcoves, the Committee have been impressed with its importance as an agency in the higher education of the community; but they have also felt that the expense incurred in its establishment could be justified on grounds of the most obvious utility; for the collection is palpably intended, not merely to gratify the intelligent curiosity of the general reader, not merely to supply men of letters, men of science and professional men with the books they need, but to furnish mechanics, manufacturers, business men, architects, engi
neers and inventors with material to aid them in their practical work. In a city like ours, a large body of costly books of reference, containing the latest information on every subject of recognized utility, and free to all, is necessary to promote the industrial interests of the citizens; and the Committee confidently state that, in this respect, Boston is, on the whole, in advance of the other cities of the Union.
After saying so much, however, in praise of the Library in the Bates Hall, it must still be remembered that it is large only as compared with the other libraries in the country, and not as compared with the great libraries of Europe. In almost every department a specialist would note the absence of thousands of volumes indispensable to make it complete. No year should be allowed to pass without witnessing some attempt to fill up these deficiencies; and the Trustees as far as their means will allow steadily keep this object in view. The sum at their command, however, for the purchase of books, new and old, including the interest on the invested fund of the Library, and excluding the cost of binding after purchase, is only about $14,000 a year. The number of current new books bought for the Library during 1868-9 was 3,396, of which 447 were duplicates. Of these, 2,607 were in the English language, leaving but 789 for the continent of Europe. But the Superintendent estimates that there are published yearly in the world 25,000 books and pamphlets, costing $30,000, which a library of the very highest class, like that of the British Museum, would consider it desirable to obtain. The age, indeed, is one of such unexampled mental activity in all departments of thought and investigation, that to purchase the best new books published in various parts of the world is a strain on the resources of American libraries which few are able to bear. Our Public Library may be said to bear this strain measurably well; but it does not possess the means to fill up, as rapidly as might be desired, its deficiencies in those books which enable the student to place himself in the position of a contem
porary of any past age whose moral and mental characteristics he may desire to investigate. For this purpose, it is not suffi cient that a library possess books intrinsically valuable; it is also necessary that it be rich in works whose value is entirely relative to the period in which they appeared, illustrating its passions, prejudices, customs, habits, popular beliefs, and average moral and intellectual tone. Only by consulting such books can the history of a literature, a science or a nation be exhaustively studied, and the progress of the human mind observed in connection with its obstructions.
The Committee are not prepared to recommend that the city government should largely increase its already munificent annual grant to the Library, for the purpose of supplying these deficiencies, but they think that the case is one eminently deserving the attention of opulent individual citizens. If the present permanent fund of the Library, amounting to $96,000, could be doubled, its income would be increased to such an extent as to enable it soon to overtake and perhaps pass the Library of Congress. It also needs a considerable fund, given on the condition that the interest in ordinary years shall be added to the principal; but that when an occasion arises of sufficient importance to justify the expenditure, a portion of the principal itself may be expended. For want of such a fund, the Trustees cannot avail themselves of opportunities, which now and then occur, of purchasing special collections of books which money itself is impotent, in ordinary times, to obtain. During the present year, if such a fund had been available, the Library might have been enriched with a rare collection of works, illustrating one of the most interesting periods of English literature, which would have made it, in that important specialty, the third library in the world. Such an opportunity will probably never again be presented. In every crisis in European affairs, many private libraries are thrown into the market, and sold at a comparatively low price. Occasionally in the United States, private collections,