Thursday, August 27, 2015

Miss Caroline Garland, Librarian ahead of her time!

            I was doing some historical research on Caroline Garland (1854—1933), the 2nd librarian of the Dover Public Library. Caroline led the public library for nearly 50 years, from its establishment in 1884 until her death.
I ran across a speech that Miss Garland gave to the “Conference of Librarians” at Lake Placid in September 1894. 
           Apparently the sticky issue of the day was whether public libraries should house just edifying literature (pronounced lit-ra-tur, of course) or cater to the teeming masses who, God forbid, might want to read some entertaining fiction!  Here’s the question from that day: “Is a public library justified in supplying books which are neither for instruction nor for the cultivation of taste; which are not books of knowledge nor of ideas, nor of good literature; which are books of entertainment only—such, for example, as the ruck of common novels.”

Here are some excerpts (with my editorial comments) from her impassioned argument. Remember this was 121 years ago: 

         This question refers not to books that are positively degrading, like Laura Jean Libbey and her ilk, nor even to the mawkish sentimentalities of Mrs. Southworth, Mrs. Stephens, and Bertha Clay; nor, of course, to works with any taint of uncleanness. I take it to refer to those moral commonplace productions, represented by Amanda Douglas, Rosa Carey, and Mrs. Holmes, possibly, but first and always by poor old Roe.**
         The taste that, uncultivated, desires Roe, is the taste that, cultivated, desires Henry James. Neither author writes novels of ideas, nor of instruction, nor of knowledge. One, however, is called a writer of good literature, by reason of artistic merit, and the other is not. Yet as regards the presence of the two in our libraries, I do not think the arguments are all in favor of James. Take, for example, two types familiar in all public  libraries:
          One is the woman who married young, lives in a small house in a crowded street, has a family of children, and expends her mental energy and taste chiefly in making the most of life for her family on her husband’s small income. She comes to the library in a home-made gown, waits patiently her turn in the line, and asks for a volume of Roe, from whose perusal she derives a commonplace but solid pleasure.
         The other is a woman who has not married so young, having waited for a husband who has money; and she lives in a house so excellent in its sanitary arrangements that a microbe would not have a fighting chance of life in it. She has no children and she comes to the library in a tailor-made gown, wants to be served at once, no matter how many are waiting, and asks for the latest volume of Henry James, from the perusal of which she acquires an added analytical and critical self-consciousness.
         I boldly avow that the welfare of the individual, and the interests of the community, are as highly served by the circulation of that volume of Roe as by that volume of Henry James. (Yay Caroline!)
         If it be a problem why so many people in the world desire commonplace books, I suspect the answer is found in the fact that so many persons are merely commonplace people. This would be an appalling fact, were it not that librarians are often quite gloriously commonplace themselves, without feeling grieved about it. Otherwise. I think we would be insufferable prigs. (Oh yes, Caroline, you’re right! We love trashy fiction too!)
        Personally, I would not deprive readers of novels for entertainment only, provided, always, that they shall be clean and free from immoral taint; although my observation would testify that the commonplace reader does not desire and will not tolerate so much immorality as will the person of highly-cultivated literary taste.  (Ooooh! Upper-crust-shaming!)
       In conclusion then, it seems to me, a public library is justified in supplying its readers, along with books of ideas, knowledge, and instruction, some books that are for entertainment only; just as I would say that a public library is justified in paying the expenses of its librarian to a meeting of the  A. L. A., even though at that meeting the librarians not only consider questions of ideas, and of instruction, and of knowledge, but also indulge themselves in a few excursions and a little general hilarity that must be conceded to be for entertainment only. (You go, girl!)
I am proud to be the successor to such a forward-thinking woman!

**Curious about “poor old Roe”, I researched further and found “the most popular American novelist of his time”:  Edward Payson Roe (1838—1888). I’d never heard of him, but his 12 “sensational, but to a degree that is not unhealthy” novels outsold Mark Twain! “A Young Girl’s Wooing”, “He Fell in Love With His Wife”, and “Miss Lou” were among Roe’s bestsellers and critics called his fiction “unhackneyed, lively and fascinating”, “vigorous, but rarely melodramatic”, and “full of wit and even frolic”. Has anyone got an E.P. Roe novel they’d like to lend me?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

My First Library

"Growing up, the town I lived in didn't have a public library yet (but how awesome is it that there are now 230 public libraries in the state!) My parents made sure that I and my siblings developed a love for reading early on by taking us to Stroudwater Books every week (I miss that place soooo much!!). I instantly became obsessed... And then I started school at Moharimet Elementary. I think I could easily say the library was the most magical and my favourite place in the entire school...nay, WORLD! They even had a story-telling area called "The Well" because I guess it looked like, well, a well! I took home armfuls of books every week and made my mom read me each one. I loved sharing them with her (and I'm sure she appreciated how much money I was saving her in the long run!) She was the best because she did silly voices for each character and sometimes changed the protagonist to have my name instead. I became such a little bookworm that anytime I was missing I would always be found curled up in a hidden little corner of my room reading. I read so much my mom started calling me a "reader of the open range" and singing this old Sesame Street song to me:
And, truth be told, I haven't let my mom stop reading me kids' books. Although now I try to use the excuse that she needs to read the stories to my nieces. She has the best Grover voice ever. I can't help it." ‪#‎MyFirstLibrary‬ ‪#‎ThrowbackThursday‬

Friday, August 07, 2015

Thank You

The staff and trustees of the Dover Public Library would like to thank the local businesses listed below for their generous support of the Dover Public Library’s Summer Reading Programs for children, teens and adults. The three programs just concluded and were a resounding success with 953 community members registered! Kids from birth to grade 1 read, (or had read to them), a whopping total of 1,840 books; kids in grades 2 -12 read for an amazing 6,400 hours, and 155 participating adults wrote 302 book reviews. It was a fantastically busy summer with lots of enthusiastic patrons taking part.
The Library is committed to making reading a lifelong habit for all ages, but particularly for children, and the Summer Reading Programs are an important part of that goal. With the help of these organizations and businesses, the library’s programs were a success story for all involved! Many thanks to:

Adelle’s Coffee House
Aroma Joe’s
Barnes and Noble
Bull Moose Music
Cinco De Mayo Bar & Grill
Diversion Puzzles and Games
Domino’s Pizza
Dos Amigos Burritos
The Dover Brickhouse
The Farm Bar & Grille
Friends of the Library
Golick’s Dairy Bar
Hilltop Fun Center
Indoor Ascent Climbing Gym
Jetpack Comics
Kendall Pond Pizza
La Festa Brick and Brew
Margaritas Mexican Restaurant
Measured Progress
Moe’s Italian Sandwiches
Nicole’s Hallmark
Noggin Factory
Paint for Fun
Panera Bread
Pizza Hut
Portable Pantry
Portland Sea Dogs
Red Alert Indoor Skateboard Park
Red’s Shoe Barn
RiverRun Bookstore
7th Settlement
Sono Bello Spa & Salon
Strafford Farms
Thirsty Moose Taphouse
Water Country
Wentworth Greenhouses
Weeksie’s Pizza
The Works

Thursday, August 06, 2015

My First Library

"My first library was in my hometown, Danvers, MA - it's called the Peabody Institute Library - which always confused people because they thought it was in Peabody, Ma, but it was just named for George Peabody (who probably lived in Danvers - dunno). Anyway, I particularly remember the inside of the building because they remodeled it while I was in grade school and I remember thinking it looked like a palace! The inside was an open concept with circular stairways that went up several floors and when you were at the top, you could see all the way to the bottom. For a kid that was pretty cool.. I especially remember loving the top floor because it was so quiet and remote and I used to look for my favorite authors up there, even though I had read her books over and over. Which author you ask? Lucy Maud Montgomery of course. I used to sit on the top floor reading all of Anne's (Anne of Green Gables) adventures for hours." #MyFirstLibrary #ThrowbackThursday