Friday, February 15, 2008

The Kinder, Gentler Library

While doing some historical research today, I ran across this poem in an 1884 issue of the Dover Enquirer newspaper. It was in a Letter to the Editor and the anonymous writer explains: "The dull prose of the usual Library Rules is so generally overlooked, or if looked over so generally disregarded, that the following rules in rhyme are sent to hopes that they may have influence with the frequenters of the New Public Library. Those who are musically inclined can sing them to the good old familiar tune of Greenville."

Gently, reader, gently moving,
Wipe your feet beside the door;
Hush your voice to whispers soothing,
Take your hat off, we implore.

Mark your number, plainly, rightly,
From the catalogue you see:
With the card projecting slightly,
Then your book bring unto me.

Quickly working,
Without shirking,
Soon another there will be.

If above two weeks you’ve left me,
Just two cents a day I’ll take,
And unless my mind’s bereft me,
Payment you must straightway make.

Treat your books as if to-morrow
Gabriel’s trump would surely sound,
And all scribbling, to your sorrow,
‘Gainst your credit would be found.

Therefore tear not,
Spot, and wear not,
All these books so neatly bound.

These few simple rules abiding,
We shall always on you smile;
There will be no room for chiding,
No one’s temper will you rile.

And when Heaven’s golden portals
For you, on their hinges turn,
With the books for all immortals,
There will be no rules to learn.

Therefore heed them
Often read them,
Lest your future weal you spurn.

In 1884,the City had just established its first public library and it seems that borrowers haven't changed much in those 124 years! Anyone know the melody for Greenville? Perhaps our librarians could learn it and we could sing our books back into the library!

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