PROVINCIAL FREE LIBRARIES.|1878-01-12|The Cardigan Observer and General Advertiser for the Counties of Cardigan Carmarthen and Pembroke - Welsh Newspapers Online
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TELEPHONE TALKING ACROSS THE…

THE GUILDHALL LIBRARY.

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THE FATAL FIRE AT NEW YORK.

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THE BRAHMAPOOTRA.

THREATENED GENERAL KAFFIR…

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DISTRESS IN SOUTH WALES."

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GUN ACCIDENTS AND THEIR CAUSES.

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MR. J. ANTHONY FRQUDE, M.A.,…

OUR AUSTRALIAN COLONIES.

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PROVINCIAL FREE LIBRARIES.

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PROVINCIAL FREE LIBRARIES. (From the" Times.*} The Free Libraries Act of 1855, amended in 1866, and also in the last Session of Parliament, permits town councils and parishes, by vote taken in a pre- scribed form, to tax the ratepayers to the extent of Id. in the £ ef rateable value, and no more, for the estab- lishment of a free library. The Id. or eon, lesser rate in the £ is applicable to the acquisition of books, newspapers, specimens of art and science, tiding, furniture, fuel, service, and light. Neighboiring branches may unite together for the purpose of executing the Act. We are told that about 100 towta have adopted the provisions of the Act; and Professor Leone Levi, in hia "Plea for a Public Library a: *he Islington," gives a list of towns having reference and lending libraries, which includes Airdrie, Bilston, Birkenbead, Birmingham, Blackburn, Bolton, Brad- ford, Bridgwater, Brierley Hill, Brlehton, Bristol, Burslem, and many other towns of the most hetro- genous character. Some of the provincial libraries have valuable specialities, as Birmingham in its col- lections of works relating to Shakespeare and to ths history and antiquities of Warwickshire. The Bir- mingham Free Library has five establishments; Sheffield has three. At Manchester, which was the first town to adopt the Free Libraries Act, there is a central library with six flourishing branches in outlying districts; and there is another library with branches in the neighbouring borough of Salford. The work of the libraries is largely done in Manchester, as in the United States of America, by yeung women employed in the capacity of assistant librarians, and thus a new field of labour is opened to wemen. Great advantages which the provincial libraries have over the reading-room of the British Museum are that they are open at night up to nine and ten o'clock, at hours when the working population are at liberty, and that they have lending departments from which all ratepayers or persons with a ratepayer's voucher may borrow books to read at home. These circumstances lead to use being made of provincial libraries by people of a much lower class than that which furnishes students at the British Museum. Each library publishes an annual report and statement of expenditure, and returns re- lating to the subject are annually laid before Parlia- ment. The reports from Birmingham, Blackburn, Bolton, Dundee, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Roch- dale, and Westminster may be cited as good examples of their kind among those to which we have been enabled to refer. From some of the documents issued the status and numbers of the persons using the libraries can be ascertained. At Leeds Public Library, established in 1869 under the Act of 1855, and now possessing four- teen branch lending libraries, the trades of those who consult works of reference are carefully registered and published in the report. In the year 1876-7 works of reference were consulted by 11,327 artisans, whose occupation is not further particularised, in addition to 3590 metal-workers, 1018 woollen operatives, and 256 dyers. Working men thus formed a substantial portion of those using the library and in still greater numbers came another class, which may be expected to benefit at least as much by the useful op- portunities of culture which free libraries afford. No less than 14,668 clerks, 2777 shop assistants, and 1649 warehousemen used the library in the year. Com- paratively a small number of teachers (3269), pupils (4533) and professional men (4583) consulted the re- ference library. The manufacturers and merchants (2506) far outnumbered the shop-keepers (1167). fact probably due to the comparatively short hours which wholesale trade enjoys. The most surprising figures are those which come last. In epite ef the abundant leisure of women, out of 15,509 persons who used the reference books in the year, only 176 were females. There was no such great disparity in the proportion of the sexes using the lending libraries. Here, out of a total of 14,389, about a third, or 3251, of the borrowers were females. Three-fourths of the books issued at the lending libraries (285,680 out of 398,456) are works of imagination. Something may be due to the situation of the reference library in a business part of the town, but the inference is irre- sistible that at Leeds, if not elsewhere, ladies, factory girls, school girls, female teachers, and domestic servants read novels and little else.

A ROMANTIC STORY.

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