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Traveling Libraries

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TRAVELING LIBRARIES. A traveling library has been defined as "A collection of books lent for stated periods by a central li brary to a branch library, club, or other organ ization or, in some instances, to an individual." The chief characteristics from which it derives its name are its temporary location in the place to which it is sent and the implication that any traveling library will or may be changed for others.

The date of the first traveling library is un certain. Passing by the itinerant Chapman and ballad-seller, the religious colporteur and the camp library of Napoleon I listed in Bour rienne's 'Memoires,) the "Circulating schools° of Wales, promoted in 1730 by Griffith Jones, and the later similar schools of the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland in the High lands and the Scottish islands may be noted as forerunners of educational extension and its logical corollary, traveling libraries. The first really practicable traveling library plan seems to have been started by Samuel Brown in East Lothian, Scotland, in 1817, though it is stated that the principle had been used with some Scottish parish libraries as early as 1810. Brown procured 200 selected volumes "about two thirds of which were of a moral and religious tendency, while the remainder comprised books of travel, agriculture, the mechanical arts and popular sciences" Four libraries of 50 vol umes each were stationed in Aberlady, Salton, Tyninghame and Gawald. In 20 years these li braries had increased to 3,850 volumes, dis tributed through 47 villages. Jean Frederic Oberlin is said to have founded itinerant libra ries in his parish of Wa!dbach in the Vosges• Mountains at about the same time that the East Lothian libraries were established. Both of these early plans barely survived their founders.

A successful system of traveling libraries was begun by the public library of Melbourne in 1860. Oxford University in 1878 and Cam bridge University soon after began to send out traveling libraries as an aid to their university extension courses.

Traveling Libraries in The American lyceum movement demonstrated the need of libraries to conserve the results of its work. "Itinerating libraries° and a county sys

tem of traveling libraries were proposed as early as 1831. In 1848, the American Seaman's Friend Society began to furnish libraries to American ships, afterward extending its work to naval hospitals and life-saving stations. The United States government has supplied similar libraries to lighthouses. These were exchanged frequently. The first general American travel ing libraries supported by public funds were authorized by the New York State legislature in 1892. The first library was sent out by the New York State Library in February 1893. Beginning with 10 libraries of 100 volumes each the circulation for the first fiscal year was 2,400 volumes. This increased in 1918-19 to a total circulation of 43,958 vol umes sent out in 1,099 different collections, with a total stock of 100,641 volumes. Michigan and Montana enacted traveling-library legislation in 1895 and Wisconsin and Iowa in 1896.

Virtually every State library commission now maintains a traveling library system for the li braries of its own State. The work of the traveling libraries section of the Educational Extension Division of the University of the State of New York may be taken as typical of the more highly organized form of this work in the State commissions. This division will send traveling libraries "to any place in New York State, preference being given to places where it is difficult to provide good books for free cir culation?' The State pays all transportation charges (other than local cartage). Seven dif ferent types of traveling libraries are provided: (1) Libraries for general readers; (2) libraries for public schools, to supplement the school li braries but not toprovide supplementary readers or textbooks; (3) libraries for small public libraries, to supplement local library col lections where library funds are scanty; (4) li braries for children; (5) libraries for foreign ers, in several foreign languages; (6) libraries for study clubs, granges, private schools, Sun day schools, churches, etc.; (7) house libraries for the individual or the single family, prefer ably in rural homes.

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