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THE PATENT ROOM.
The room formerly occupied by the Bindery and Printing Establishments is nearly ready for the use, of the Patent Department, and the books will be transferred about the first of March. By this change more space and light will be obtained, and the patents will be more accessible.
The numerical list of German patents is practically completed. The single numbers of the specifications and drawings of American patents issued prior to July, 1869, for which the sum of one thousand dollars was sent to the Commissioner of Patents in September, 1897, have been nearly all received.
The reference books have been re-classified and numbered. A collection of trade catalogues has been made.
According to the report of Mr. Frank C. Blaisdell, the Custodian, as far as a count could be made, 68,335 books have been consulted during the year by 3,185 persons.
The number of volumes in the Patent Room is 9,122, divided as follows:
Great Britain g to e to & 5,404
The publications of Italy and Switzerland are needed. A picture of the new Patent Room is to be found on another page.
Fifty-seven new periodicals have been added to the Periodical Room and forty-nine have been discontinued or ceased publication.
During the year specimen numbers of 321 new periodicals were received, with a request of this Library to buy or receive them by gift.
Of bound volumes, 30,478 have been consulted by readers, and 32,357 unbound back numbers; the use of newly published periodicals is not counted.
A new List of current periodicals in the Reading Room is ready to be printed.
The use of the room appears to have been larger than in the year preceding.
There are 356 newspapers (including duplicates) in the Newspaper Room. These find constant use and the space at command is at times insufficient. The largest number of persons present at any one time was 161.
Many volumes have recently been bound, and the use of them has much increased thereby, the record showing that 19,256 volumes have been consulted during the year. The rooms for bound newspapers are to be connected with the new Patent Room, where the volumes can be used more conveniently than in their present location. The number of bound volumes, including duplicates, is 6,256. A large accumulation of unbound matter is being gradually arranged for binding.
There has been stored at the Brighton Branch a vast mass of newspapers and periodicals. These have been examined, and all duplicates and other publications not needed have been disposed of by sale or exchange.
The third course of free lectures under the auspices of the Trustees of the Library was given in March, April, and May, 1902, in the Lecture Room of the Library, on the AEsthetic development of cities, the speakers and subjects being as follows: Mr. Albert Kelsey, The city of the future; Mr. C. Howard Walker, City streets and squares; Mr. R. Clipston Sturgis, Small houses and the grounds about them; Mr. John DeWitt Warner, Public advertising; Mr. Edmund M. Wheelwright, Bridges; Mr. F. W. Ruckstuhl, The proper function of open air statuary; Mr. F. L. Olmsted, jr., The City of Washington, its plan and its possibilities; Mr. John Woodbury, Water parks; Mr. Brooks Adams, The purpose for which a city may reasonably encourage art. Most of the lectures were illustrated by the stereopticon.
The Library Lecture Room has been used for the meetings of numerous societies. The first session of the general meeting of the American Library Association was held here, also meetings of the American Oriental Society, the Massachusetts Library Club, and other organizations.
THE BRANCH SYSTEM.
The following account of the work of the Branch Department for the year is taken from the report of Mr. Langdon L. Ward, the Supervisor of Branches and Stations.
The total home use of the branches for the year is 752,411 volumes, a gain of only 6,681 volumes over the year before.
The percentage of fiction has declined only a little this year, with a greatly reduced supply of current fiction. This is probably due to the open shelves, and means that the public is reading the old fiction. But it seems evident that an improvement in the quality of the reading must eventually result from a small supply of fiction and a liberal supply of other attractive books.
The branches as centres of distribution have increased their work largely. The number of schools which they now regularly supply is forty, as against twenty-six a year ago. The number of volumes they have sent on deposit is 11,107, as against 5,426 in the year 1901.
The deposit function is comparatively a new one for the branches, but it has already proved of value in utilizing to the utmost their collections of books, and relieving the Central Library from demands which it could not easily satisfy.
The branch custodians have been asked to compile a list of the institutions of their district, with information about them, on cards which are being revised and filed at the Central Library. In general, the relations between the branch libraries and the institutions in their districts have been greatly strengthened during the year. This tends to increase the constituency and to make each branch used.
INSTRUCTION OF EMPLOYEES.
In a branch library where duties are necessarily general, rather than highly specialized, it is desirable that each attendant should know accurately all the details of the work. Hence a definite system of instruction which could not be evaded seemed necessary, and was begun about a year ago. This is the method of written question and answer. The object is not so much to test knowledge as to get an assurance that it has been acquired.
What perhaps differentiates these examination papers from others is their practical character. They deal with library science only as applied to the Boston Public Library in its branch department. This is believed to be a necessary and useful limitation. The result is that most of the employees feel that the questions instead of being a burden are an opportunity. The papers which have been issued have dealt