Visual display of the Our libraries and the war : report of preliminary committee to the American Library Association, at its annual meeting at Louisville, June 22, 1917

				
2                        AME1ICAN LititARy ASSOCIATION.
al sorts to witho11 the inactive hours of canip or field biing ilepressing tedium and
dangerous temptation, and to whloi merely recreative reading would be a saving
resource'.
Note-To librarians these prospects and wha.t they imiplyv scarcely need exposi-
tion.  ihey were outlined bY Air. Gilclrist int in article inl tle Libra rY Journal for
May ; and thevy are sumnarized i in a statement by Miss MAarthit Wilson so coinpact
that we append a copy of it.
They include still sonie uncertainties: for instance 11s to how muiChtt itisure for
reading and htoxw much energy the ietn here will have, after the arduous drill of
e-telt day; or indeed low mutch ititerist in aty but tactical books during the novelty
of these first exercises and experiences. [iThe situation of tile seisoned troops On the
actual froit during time past three years affords no pi allel.1 It is uncertain also
low long anly particiular group of iten will remain int taiinilg I here before going to
the front. But as fast as they go their places will be taken by others, as long as
the war Ists, ntid the chief uncerta intty is als to how long the war itself will Itst.
But we must prepare as if it were likely to last for sev'ral years.
Hlere, thent, seem, an extraordinary o1pportunity-for it service distinctly appro-
pritie, of undotlited va lue to the government, and oif permanent effect. Cal the
association und rtilke it? If not completely, Can1t the association contribute to it?
There are individutia  libraries alradv indertaking it for small iuits within
their viciiity  There ixs, we hear, a prospect that it  ab li be ily tiundertaken by
Louisxille, for this large unit here. 'Ihere are sot)i' states, notably Neiv York, where
tle Stiate Library, or the State Library Conission has undertaken it for training
camps and guard outposts within their jurisdictions. 'rie great conentration of
men-in the sixteen main cantoltanments-will. itowever, for the most part, be in areas
little likely to be serve(] by sch ians. Adii there will be the men abroad, and
the men oil tIe ships. For all of these the supplY Imtust be vast-thollStands of
voliies; the work of gathering these must be ntiotil wide, of selecting and discrim-
inating them-espeiall y\ those which are to be informing and stitulating-must be
expert; and the m    -eans of gathering, forwardilng acotnnodiatilg ant adminisering
them will require amiple,. thorough and intelligent organization. Books will have
to be b-ought, large expelnses let. The imore housing tif the colctions tt the camip
units will require a building, or roomis in an a iippropriate building, recognized b)' the
auth orities. Fund'its a well as books w'ill have to be solicited. Ai aipial for them
must carry authority. If faiilities tre to be asked from the government, froti rail-
roads or from express cimipanilies for forwarding thllelm, the appeal foi these also nist
carry authority.
To underta ke such it  service indpcildently Imight prov within the abilities of tlet
A. L. A. To accomplish it sluc'ssfully would add notaly>' to th pirestige if the
association.  Itut, just as ill other matters tempting to duplication of organiizationt
and thus waste of efiort, it is our duty to avoid this by coordination, so inl this
ntiter it would secti xise for us, before decidin to org"alize. such a service iutde-
pendently, to consider whether there are not other igencies already existing with
which we might as tlliciently and more econolitiilly cooperate.
Now thietc te a three such agencies whiich would welcome our cooperation: one
governimental, one iu                thsi-ger l t he third privite. The first is the Comllis-
Sion onl Training Camlp Activities-anl auxiliary of thel Wilr Department; thle second
is the American Red Cross; thle third is the Young M1en's Christian Association. Thle
second and thiird tire two of the fouir great agentcies in (reat Britain. The Red Cross
there limits its service of reading matter to ite 'lie  ill the hospitals. This liay
prove an especial concern of tiel Red Cross liere, though our Red Cross also distributes



					
				
					
AMERICAN LTHRARY ASSOCIATION.

3

some books with the soldiers' kits. It also gives away other books and periodicals
0iven to it for the pulpose. It does not propose to maitain libraries or lending col-
lectiols.
The Comiiitssiont oln Caip Activities ilso expects to gatier reading matter, and,
if fluds prove availaible. to purchase some. Its pian is, however, to turn all of this
oer to the Y. Al. C. A. to be aidimijinistered bv it. The buildings maintained by the
Conmission will be priarila itlitairits for lectures andi entertainments.
Ihte 'Y. Al. C. A. expects not merell to solicit ad to buyvmaterial, but to ad-
tministir it from it,, headquarters in camp and field-mplif.ving in this respect the
ork it didl at the harder. Tihe bu ildings proposed provide for shelving and readiig
spee   inalide(pitelY, to be sure. in the initial plans. it doubtless ca pable of exten-
sion. if the need cain he shown. [A full statemeit lY Mr. Orr himself, of what tle
Y. M1. C. A. lwoposws will appeal in tile JulY Libirary Joulmial.]
These various ilte ntions. isiertaiined bY repesentatives of our commnittee in con-
ferences witlh autlomrized lepresetativis of the three agenlcies, in particular Mr.
1lanmoer of the Comtnissiolt. nd Mr. Orr of the Y. M1. C. A., have not yet been formu-
lated into defilite plans. Awl certain details renaiii Yet to le determined; for in-
stlce., walit fiunds will be available for the purciase of miterial; whether such of it
as is gathered locally shall be seiit to a ceontral or to regional headquarters, for
Cassitiention prior to distribution  anti tihe means  nid muethod of trainsportation.
l1it tle represen ta tives imade clar tiat in aiv ease they would velcoine and value
high lY the aid whihel our aIssoeintiont and our idividlual filiraries might render.
The obvious forimis of mIid would le these: BY the association, through its special
coiuittee, in the omitilationt of lists of books desirtable for purehase or to be sought
as gifts. |An example of the itter, uidertaken lilly, is that issued by tle Syra-
('use, Public LibralY. Exiperiitee proves the need of such if a mass of prollered ma-
terial likelY to prove futile is to be avoided. In addition to specific lists there are
neidedalso ctegiories of the generil type of literitiure desired, eispecilly iln the inl-
forining anld stiultiintlig groups. The twoi needs have been recognized by the Y. M.
C. A. in requcstiing assistance front a conuiittee of New York libirarians of which lMr.
Adamlis is lhairant.  The ciomittee could also aid in giviitg wide publicity to the
project, could inform antd aidvise libraries in their relation with it, could give added
authority to the apIpea l for fundls ind miterial, anid coumldI advise with the representa-
tives of the aglncies as to the developinig details inl the administratioin.
The importit services of tie individdual libriar., besides aiding in the publicity,
a   in the appll for fundls and material would  e to receive and sift the latter, and
to forward it. It Emgland thI 1000 postmtsters iemieive ly proffered for the purpose
aild forward it without elarge. No sulch arrantgemttent offers here. But one or two
raillols have indertakent it lotailv; and ai inquiry is before tite Railroad Board
as to whether our rtilrotd systems inight not unidertike it geierally. Should they
a glee to thecv inmust le safegmirded aginist tle burden of carrying what may not be
winttd; aid the iniluirv was coupled with time suggestion tintt the loeal agents need
onl Y be tlitutorized to tcept for tranismission shipments exmined atnd certified by
the librarian of the loAl library.  [8ee a ntieioranldum, aippelnded, from Ar. Johnston
of tle Buretu of R]iiwav Economics. It is the Burean whichi his addressed the
Itilramid  loi ard  in  tihe  ialltter.I
FinatllY, there is possibl a imaijor servie whieh, organized bY the A. L. A. Com-
uittee, would have to be rernited from inidividiul libraries. This is the supply of
teaiined library worker.s to aid in the tetil adiniitistration of the collections in thie
t        ,s. The tivantgei-ilded froim out poiit of view, tihe need-of such expert
Service  iobvioums, if tihe m]lost is to ie Imide of tle opportuiity. Ail it seems prob-