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LQ Volume 2 Issue 4

Reading notes for the second volume and fourth issue of The Library Quarterly.

To return to the list of notes on this volume: volume-2

Article 1

This entry is about:

Waples, Douglas, Carnovsky, Leon, & Randall, William M. (1932). The Public Library in the Depression. The Library Quarterly, 2(4), 321-343. url:

Note: The first article of the fourth issue of the second volume of The Library Quarterly is titled “The Public Library in the Depression.”

It was prepared by Douglas Waples, Leon Carnovsky, and William M. Randall, who were affiliated with:

Affiliation: University of Chicago

Note: I use the word prepared above because this article has no official author. Instead, the first footnote states the following, as a footnote to the title of the article:

This article was prepared by Douglas Waples, Leon Carnovsky, and William M. Randall from data collected by the Library quarterly (p. 321).

I feel, then, as if I'm violating something (perhaps a rule) by explicitly placing Waples, Carnovsky, and Randall's names in the reference above. It's as if the Library Quarterly itself is the author of this piece (supposed corporate authorship?). However, according to the index for the volume, these three men are listed as the authors. Randall, it should be noted, is the journal's managing editor.

Note: Aside from the authorship issue, given the topic of this article and the recent recession, this should make for a really interesting piece.

To get started:

First, decreased revenues from taxation have resulted in smaller appropriations for library purposes (p. 321).

Huh, sounds current.

The second respect in which the library has felt the effects of the depression is in the increased service the library is called upon to render (p. 322).

That also sounds current.

And then this:

We read that people out of work are spending more time either in reading for recreation - to “kill time” - or in reading seriously, to learn the fundamental economics involved in the depression or to acquire new educational equipment in the hope of improving their chances for a new job (p. 322).

And this, the reaction, sounds current:

Small wonder, then, that the leaders in the profession have raised the cry against drastic reductions in library acquisitions, for seldom before has the library stood out so sharply as a source of individual hope and social amelioration (p. 322).

Note: This is a good question / assumption to highlight:

Theoretically, if library service is to remain constant, the library appropriation should be actually increased (p. 325).

Note: Lots of relevant (to today) questions being explored in this piece – about collections, service, salaries, buildings, and so on. I'll leave that out of these notes, but this is a nice piece of wisdom, I think:

The foregoing data should interest the librarian in so far as he can place his own institution in the general picture. But such orientation demands a knowledge of local conditions affecting other libraries like his own. Without such knowledge it does him little good to know whether or not the other libraries are effecting the same economies. The fact that other libraries of the same size and type are reducing the same items of expense in the same proportion does not in itself show whether his own budgeting is wise or unwise (p. 337).

The questions raised in the paragraph following the above passage are brilliant.

Note: My goodness, this sounds like the ROI literature of today:

Library officials will be forced, as never before in this country, to rest their claims for appropriations, not upon sentimental appeals, but upon the sort of evidence that city officials obtain from other departments. Library development may easily receive a permanent setback if, when called to account, the profession cannot demonstrate, specifically and convincingly, the nature and scope of its service (p. 338).

Note: This article continues to be brilliant.

Note: On not being trivial (this is also brilliant):

Most librarians testify to large increases in economics, sociology, political science, and history. But what are we to conclude? That the muddle which politics has made of economics is driving men to John Stuart Mill and his peers for consolation, that the reading is mostly current history of the Charles A. Beard type, or that the readers are at last taking the crisis seriously enough to read forthright explanations of it in Stuart Chase, Laidler the unfettered spokesman of the left (p. 341)?

Note: This is fascinating (it immediately follows the above paragraph:

The writer has checked a list of the better-known left-wing writers against the catalogues of two city libraries and found them very poorly represented. The problem of censorship involved here is incidentally a matter of critical importance to public confidence in the library (p. 341).

Reflection: This is simply one of the best articles I've read. Waples, Carnovsky, and Randall deserve their status as intellectual giants in library science.

Article 2

This entry is about:

Leland, Simeon E. (1932). Observations on Financing Libraries. The Library Quarterly, 2(4), 344-366. url:

Note: The second article of the fourth issue of the second volume of The Library Quarterly is titled “Observations on Financing Libraries.”

It was written by Simeon E. Leland, who was affiliated with:

Affiliation: University of Chicago

Note: The second article on the Great Depression and libraries.

Note: On valuating public services:

The first problem of government, therefore, is to evaluate collective social wants and create means for sating them. The techniques employed in making these valuations have to date been very crude, consisting largely in the political appraisal of voters' demands rather than in the scientific weighing of the social utilities of various governmental services or combinations of functions (pp. 344-345).

Note: More on the role of government (and an indication of future dominance of cost / benefit analyses):

In such a set-up every institution supported by public funds can reasonably be called upon to demonstrate its social utility, to prove its capacity to render service on a least social cost basis, and to demonstrate the extent of the benefits conferred upon the community (p. 345).

Leland then notes that the value of the public library, in terms of its government support, should be weighed against the value of other services and functions the government funds and supports, and this all lies with the support of the taxpayers.

Note: The Depression is influencing the important questions (note the causal link between economic scarcity and questions about essential services). Note also the attitude about recreation:

Is the library so vital a part of the educational system that its facilities should be within reasonable reach of all of the inhabitants of the country? Or is the function of the library essentially recreational rather than educational, so that it should be classified with the permissive functions of government rather than with activities rendering essential public services (p. 347).

Note: Bottom of page 348, there's an important discussion of library boards. Connect this section with the two articles written by Joeckel on public libraries and governance Joeckel 1931a and Joeckel 1931b.

Note: A discussion about government centralization and how libraries should respond:

Many library boards, with their sovereign independence to hire and fire irrespective of municipal civil service codes, and their independent tax levies and self-controlled budgets and treasuries, will oppose this general movement to simplify and improve the effectiveness of the governmental machine. A large part of this opposition probably is based upon the fear that the change will decrease the funds available for library support. To hedge against this, the libraries should study their financial problems, the methods for improving services, and the means for reducing costs (p. 350).

Note: Then more on the reasons why librarians should provide data that highlights their value. See page 351.

This discussion shows that the early drive to understand a library's community arose out of a possible need to justify the existence of the library as a tax funded institution. The input / output / outcome literature surely stems from these early discussions. The questions at the top of page 352 are still being asked.

Note: On the type of analysis:

This method of approaching the problem is designated as “unite cost analysis.” The cost accounting methods which are here involved have been applied for many years to private undertakings, but only recently have they been developed as aids in intelligent fiscal administration for governmental bodies. So far as is known, the unit cost approach has not, as yet, been applied to library work. The operations of the library, however, can be readily adapted to this approach. Costs of library circulation, reference service, cataloguing, indexing, and bibliography-making can all be calculated on this basis (p. 353-354).

Note: An important discussion about costs of personnel and costs of collections takes place on pages 355-357. The discussion is based on data. The following quote is from the first sentence of the main paragraph on page 357 and highlights the importance of the librarian as a professional (even if not stated as such) relative to the material at hand in the library. The whole paragraph is highly interesting:

These personal services may also have greater social utility than the mere aggregation of reading matter and may be required to secure the greatest usefulness from book collections (p. 357).

And then, more on the importance of the librarian (as I've stated elsewhere, the librarian is what makes a library, otherwise a library is simply a warehouse):

Such a concept of the library implies more than well-filled book shelves with a clerk to dispense the volumes. It calls for adequate personnel to carry the library to its patrons, to increase the velocity of book circulation, to interest children in literature and to tell them stories, to hunt up the sources of information on any subject, to cross-index collections in order to maximize their usefulness, and to do a score of things which trained librarians daily accomplish (p. 357).

Note: I haven't commented on this yet, but there is a lot of useful data in this early articles. For example, this article cites library income per patron.

Note: This is somewhat funny, in a depressing sort of way, because it hasn't really changed:

The folly of drawing political boundary lines within which governments are to be locally supported with little or no relation to wealth or taxable capacity is rapidly being recognized. Investigations of these absurdities and inequalities in the field of library finance have not been made, but the meager income available to many small libraries reflects these conditions (p. 364).

Note: Ha, libraries have always had to apply methods to limit the monopolizing of resources:

One library has even imposed a service charge for the use of city directories and similar publications providing they are monopolized by single readers for more than a stipulated maximum time (p. 366).

And after listing a variety of ways libraries can levy fees, this important note:

Nevertheless, the revenue possibilities of such fees are probably very limited (p. 366).

Note: Interesting note about the ultimate value of the library (not in the hands of the librarians):

It remains for others to decide whether the claim of the library to a portion of the public funds is equal to, or greater than, or even inferior to, the claims of other departments and other public services. This question as to what governments should do with their limited resources is not for the librarians to determine, and in the long run the decision will not be theirs (p. 366).

And thus begins the eighty year effort to argue for the value of the library so that the public continues to support it:

They can help secure an answer favorable to themselves and to their cause by studying the institution which they manage and by learning the facts concerning their services and their fiscal operation (p. 366).

Article 3

This entry is about:

Gosnell, Charles F., and Schütz, Géza. (1932). Goethe the Librarian. The Library Quarterly, 2(4), 367-374. url:

Note: The third article of the fourth issue of the second volume of The Library Quarterly is titled “Goethe the Librarian.”

It was written by Charles F. Gosnell and Géza Schütz, who were affiliated with:

Affiliation: New York City (No affiliation)

Note: More Goethe

More discussion about Goethe and what may be considered the problem with the glut of information and managing that glut. There was early interest in a union catalog, although that term is not used. Instead, the German term “'Gesamt-Catalog'” is used and other phrases including the “'Real-Catalog'” and the “'Nominal-Catalog'” (p. 369). Essentially, the desire to unionize collections, either physically or indexically, has existed for quite some time.

Note: The number of social science articles in these early volumes of *LQ* are interesting especially in comparison to the number of historical / humanities articles.

Note: Incredible story related by Goethe on pages 371-372.

Note: The author summarizes Goethe's accomplishments:

After two years of work, in December, 1819, Goethe was able to look back with satisfaction on the work accomplished and report what he had done. A veritable revolution had taken place. The several rooms that held the library had been joined by doorways, partitions and screens had been fixed, numerous repairs effected, and painting done; and, of course, a wall had been razed and a garden improved, and a door had been cut into a room once used by the medical faculty. In the library proper, an accession book had been started, a new “Ausleihebuch” or loan-book had been introduced, a name-catalogue on slips was in the making, classification had been carried through the pure and applied sciences and was progressing in other fields, and many other reforms were being made. In November, 1824, after seven years of work, Goethe, at the age of seventy-five, was able to report that his task had been completed (p. 373).

Note: Goethe's fascination with the loan-book. See top of page 374.

Note: Of course I've read Goethe, but I had no idea, given these two articles on him, about his relationship and work with libraries. Really quite fascinating. Needs more exploration.

Article 4

This entry is about:

Iiams, Thomas M. (1932). Preservation of Rare Books and Manuscripts in the Huntington Library. The Library Quarterly, 2(4), 375-386. url:

Note: The fourth article of the fourth issue of the second volume of The Library Quarterly is titled “Preservation of Rare Books and Manuscripts in the Huntington Library.”

It was written by Thomas M. Iiams, who was affiliated with:

Affiliation: The Huntington Library

Note: The first page of the article contains a photograph of a “vacuum fumigator” that was designed by the library. Incredible photo. Kind of illustrates how self-sufficient libraries must have been at the time.

Note: This is a particularly interesting comment with regards to the future development and mission concerning special collections:

The creation of “treasure rooms” in several large public and university libraries during recent years shows a definite trend toward conservation for posterity, making it clear that librarians in research institutions are become definitely receptive to ideas other than those mainly governing the purchase and circulation of books (p. 375).

Note: The article is about bookworms, or the treatment of books that are plagued by bookworms. I did not expect this.

Note: When the librarians at Huntington started searching for a solution to the pest, they sometimes received this humorous response:

Others reported that their libraries were free from all insect pests, and seemed a bit surprised to learn that there was a bookworm other than the human variety (p. 376).

Note: The bookworms (a kind of beetle) were a serious problem (not just for the library but for the sake of preserving knowledge). While the article is written with some humor at times, it does also reflect the gravity the situation and what is at stake. Consider:

Bear in mind, also, that in each case we had to satisfy ourselves that there would be no deleterious effects on the materials fumigated, either now or two centuries from now. This, of course, necessitated months of research which would have been difficult without the very kind co-operation of the California Institute of Technology (p. 381).

Note: The article does go beyond the issue of bookworms and discusses climate and other atmospheric concerns, including mold as well as air polution in industrial cities, related to the long-term preservation of books. For example:

Our own investigation indicated that a temperature of 70 F. and a relative humidity of 50 per cent, maintained day in and day out, are ideal for the proper preservation of books and manuscripts. These precise conditions we have been able to maintain for about two years. Vellum manuscripts that curled and cracked when the humidity was low can now be conveniently handled with assurance that gold illuminations will not peel off (p. 385).

Note: Mentions more work needed with the issue of foxing.

Article 5

This entry is about:

Macdonald, Duncan B. (1932). A Bibliographical and Literary Study of the First Appearance of the “Arabian Nights” in Europe. The Library Quarterly, 2(4), 387-420. url:

Note: The fifth article of the fourth issue of the second volume of The Library Quarterly is titled “A Bibliographical and Literary Study of the First Appearance of the 'Arabian Nights' in Europe.”

It was written by Duncan B. Macdonald, who was affiliated with:

Affiliation: Hartford, Connecticut (No Affiliation)

Note: I don't usually attempt to trace all the authors who have no stated affiliation, but the following line sparked by interest:

This, then, is an attempt to give an exact bibliographical description, a visu, of the
original edition of Galland's Mille et une nuit, of certain early reprints and translations of the same, and of some other early editions of cognate books, all in my possession. The Galland editio princeps is exceedingly rare; even the copy in the Bibliothèque Nationale is incomplete; and no exact description of it seems so far to have been made (pp. 387-388).

Specifically, that Macdonald would have possession of these works made me think that he might be a rare book collector, and I thought it interesting that an early contributor to LQ would be one among this trade. A quick web search, though, shows that Macdonald was a professor, retired just around the time of the publication of this article. He has a inter-faith theological center named after him (if I have truly traced the correct Macdonald): The Duncan Black Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations. The following is an article that discusses the person in a little more detail (link in the above page): A Century of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Hartford Seminary.

Note: The article proceeds according to its title. It includes rather detailed bibliographical descriptions of the volumes of work that disseminated (first in France) the Arabian Nights stories in France in the early 18th century. These descriptions also include some background stories about the volumes.

Note: A new section titled “English Translation.” This interesting bit:

There seems to be no clue as to when the Nights appeared first in English. Some unknown translator at a very early date turned Galland's artistic French into the strangest Grub Street English. Also he seems to have rendered from a La Haye edition.

I have not heard the term Grub Street English, but there's a Wikipedia page for it.

Note: I omit the detail, but this line says something about the audience Macdonald hopes to reach by publishing in LQ:

But the question belongs to the history of literature rather than to bibliography (p. 412).
lq/volume-2-issue-4.txt · Last modified: 2017/02/07 08:51 by seanburns