Reading notes for the third volume and first issue of The Library Quarterly.
To return to the list of notes on this volume: volume-3
This entry is about:
Waples, Douglas. (1933). Community Studies in Reading: 1. Reading in the Lower East Side. The Library Quarterly, 3(1), 1-20. url:http://www.jstor.org/stable/4301940
Note: The first article of the first issue of the third volume of *The Library Quarterly* is titled “Community Studies in Reading: 1. Reading in the Lower East Side.”
It was written by Douglas Waples, who was affiliated with:
Affiliation: University of Chicago
Note: The article begins with a description of brief cultural and historical description of the community and explains why this community is an important focus of study for reading habits:
To understand the distribution of reading matter, one must be able to answer such questions as these: What proportion of the population are readers? From what sources or agencies (such as newstands, rental libraries, home libraries, settlement libraries, bookstores, pushcarts, book clubs, reading-rooms, and public libraries) do the readers get their reading? What kinds of reading matter and what proportion of each kind does each occupational group obtain from each source (p. 2)?
Note: Waples then details how to collect data and then asks the important question:
Granting the possibility of securing such facts, one may well ask what they are worth. There are at least four plausible answers (p. 3).
Note: The first is to measure “social intelligence” (p. 3). But here, he notes, it is not simply that a community reads but that a community reads well-balanced material:
If the writing be sincere, competent, and multi-partisan, the more widely it is read, the better for the whole community. Its consumption by the general reader is a fair measure of social consciousness, of the desire to meet critical issues rationally, and of unwillingness to evade them. Hence the facts about community reading on current social problems teach us much about man as a social animal. They help us to find out how social he is: according to his occupation, age, schooling, race, and habitat (p. 3).
Note the demographic characteristics he adds in the above passage.
Note: The second reason is to measure the value of reading. Even then, librarians and library scholars were dealing with alternate methods of communication, then it was radio, today it is the Internet. In the paragraph after the one below, he also mentions as sources of competition with reading: friends, motion pictures, museum exhibits, lectures, and school courses (p. 4):
Secondly, the facts show what reading is actually worth in the given community as a vehicle for ideas, and as compared with other arts of communication. One sure thing is that critical reading in some American communities is not provoked even by national disaster. The angels weep when devout public librarians foist “good reading” upon a radio-minded town (p. 3).
Hence, before we take adult reading too seriously, it behooves us to learn how successfully reading competes with the other arts of communication (p. 4).
Note: A third reason is to measure the comparison between library reading and reading obtained from other sources. This point is a matter of economy and of, according to Waples, libraries being efficient agencies.
In the third place, and assuming that adult reading is sufficient in amount and distribution to be an> important source of ideas, we need to know how library reading in the given community compares with reading obtained from other sources, if only to avoid expensive duplication. Given a picture of the total reading situation, where does library reading fit in? To answer this question is the first step toward a planned economy of public librarianship, that is, a program aimed at results of cultural value to the whole community that are not accomplished by other agencies (p. 4).
It's interesting that he writes this:
In times of economic collapse, these questions matter a great deal more, particularly to the watchdogs of the city treasury. Hence, the urge toward self-preservation, if not professional curiosity, should make them interesting. Having mastered the essential problems of administration and come to grips with the psychology of reading, librarians now confront the mysteries of sociology. The present time is ripe for a formulation of social policy, and we
lack the necessary facts (p. 4).
Note: A fourth reason is to understand how to provide the appropriate reading material. This is an historically important reason:
A fourth reason for collecting the facts is that the more we know about the sort of reading most acceptable to different population groups, the better able we are to select good reading for the library. We cannot say what is good reading until we can answer the questions “good for whom?” and “good for what?” (p. 5).
Waples then criticizes the use of the Pulitzer award, but it would seem that any such device as an indicator of good reading would be sufficient for questioning, as a measure of what is good reading. Very interesting argument.
Note: Waples proceeds to discuss the neighborhood under study. This bit on sexual material, just by nature of being in this article, is fascinating:
There has been a perceptible decline in the sales of the sex magazines—partly due to the competition of salacious books and partly to the fact that sex magazines have not reduced their price; Gay parisienne, La Paree, Paris nights, Pep stories, Snappy stories, Spicy stories, and Ten story each sell for a quarter. These are obtainable only from the stands, including the ten or twelve stationary shops that sell old magazines for a very few cents, depending on how old they are (p. 7).
Note: Seems like book stores have always looked back to some golden age (of course, the following passage could simply be referring to times before the Depression):
Also, the proprietors know books. They impress one as good people—courageous in their determination to believe that this unhappy world will always contain readers of good books, yet wistful of the old days whenever the talk turns upon sales (p. 9).
Note: This is a really provoking description of a book store:
The famous shop of Maisel on Grand street deserves a book of its own. One rarely meets an individual more competent than the proprietor to select the sort of books that everyone should read; nor does one often feel the seductive fascination of books so strongly as when poking around his shelves. Forty-five years at the same address, a warm interest in people as such, and an instinct for the well-written book in any tongue and on any theme, have produced a literary shrine of unusual richness. It feels a holy place (p. 9).
Note: The next passage relates an interview, with quotes, with someone who sells books by a pushcart.
And then Waples, with or without explicit intention, makes a case for qualitative methodology:
Such people are mentioned with no interest of substituting sentiment for figures. They demonstrate the presence of thoroughly good people in the local book trades–nearly prostrate though the business is. Such people make for a qualitative influence of reading which numbers do not catch (p. 10).
Note: Next Waples begins to focus on the public library. He first describes the role of occupation and the kind of information the occupation variable can contain.
Occupation is the central fact in the lives of most Americans. Hence in comparing populations of any sort, it is convenient to compare the proportions engaged in different kinds of work. Occupation is perhaps the best single label, because it usually implies significant differences in schooling, intelligence, and economic status, and often implies differences in cultural status and age (p. 11).
Note: Interesting observation about the relationship between sex and reading (see page 12). Waples finds, surprisingly for him, that sex does not predict the amount of reading (both sexes read about the same amount) but it is able to say something about what is read.
Note: This is kind of funny. On page 13, Waples lists a number of reasons that affect library use. The list includes items that are still valid today, but this one is striking and telling of the times:
Among the conditions which obviously affect popular use of the library are … the inability to smoke (which should bother some women as much as it bothers some men) … (p. 13).
Note: I've left out a lot of details of this study, but I should note that the questions asked and the data presented is as sophisticated and as meaningful as anything done today.
Note: The conclusion of the article is poignant.
The wealth and variety of writing that records the spiritual and intellectual adventures of all manner of men in all countries during all these vicissitudes is available for our own guidance today. It stands ready to explain what any one of us has enough curiosity to learn regarding the chances for Western civilization to survive. Such reading is as valuable an experience for any rational person as modern society has to offer (p. 20).
This entry is about:
Kuhlman, Augustus Frederick. (1933). Some Implications in the New Plan of the University of Chicago for College Libraries. The Library Quarterly, 3(1), 21-36. url:http://www.jstor.org/stable/4301941
Note: The second article of the first issue of the third volume of The Library Quarterly is titled “Some Implications in the New Plan of the University of Chicago for College Libraries.”
It was written by Augustus Frederick Kuhlman, who was affiliated with:
Affiliation: University of Chicago Libraries
Note: The article discusses the impact or implications resulting from changes that the University of Chicago President Robert Maynard had overseen (the *New Plan*). I've read about this before, but I can't recall which work it was. Will have to investigate later.
Note: The author then discusses how the library will support the New Plan. He discusses the new courses and the specific ways the library will support these courses. Very detailed.
Note: Nice observation:
Third, in this new curriculum and as part of the teaching method and content, books hold a position of major importance. But not just books, not even titles in a standard list, are called for. As was just pointed out, quality of titles, and specific titles for a specific purpose, is what counts. Once a college abolishes course credits and grades as a basis for granting a degree and tries to set up genuine and tested educational attainments as the prerequisite, the great problem becomes: How can the best that the human spirit has achieved be made available to the student? (p. 33).
Note: I'll have to search for where I read about Robert Maynard Hutchins and his work at the University of Chicago. It's at the tip of my tongue, but it'll have to wait till next week.
This entry is about:
Carnovsky, Leon. (1933). The Dormitory Library: An Experiment in Stimulating Reading. The Library Quarterly, 3(1), 37-65. url:http://www.jstor.org/stable/4301942
Note: The third article of the first issue of the third volume of The Library Quarterly is titled “The Dormitory Library: An Experiment in Stimulating Reading.”
It was written by Leon Carnovsky, who was affiliated with:
Affiliation: University of Chicago
Note: The University of Chicago, in the 1931-32, opened a new dorm that offers new amenities to its students. Carnovsky seeks to understand how the new dorm, which has “two library rooms, one at either end of the building” (p. 37), influences reading.
The rooms (libraries) have ash-trays, a noted convenience. Interesting.
Note: The article does not (yet) make specific mention of the previous article that covered the University of Chicago's new educational plan, but it does discuss the new dorm with respect to that plan.
Note: The Graduate Library School maintains the dormitory libraries. This is on purpose – as the School intentionally desired to maintain these dormitory libraries in order to study and learn,
something about reading habits, motives, incentives–in short, about reading behavior“ (p. 40)
of these students.
Note: Carnovsky mentions Kuhlman's article in the third footnote.
Note: Carnovsky and the School kept two records. A book record recorded titles in circulation. The other record:
The reader record was something of an innovation. It consisted of a card for each student upon which the titles withdrawn by any student were at once written (p. 41).
Note: Carnovsky discusses various limitations of the study. See bottom of page 41.
Note: Based on Table II (p. 42), it appears students charged books much less frequently toward the end of the year than they do at the beginning. Reference books in circulation are not included in the figures.
Note: More limitations discussed on pages 42-43. Many of these limitations are normal limitations based on the kind of data that is based on circulation records. For example, such records cannot indicate the reading of a book in the library (i.e., one not checked out).
Note: Carnovsky confirms on page 44 that,
library withdrawals decreased steadily from quarter to quarter (p. 44).
Note: Carnovsky discusses the reading habits of the optional books by General Course category. I may not have noted in this in my Kuhlman notes, but the University of Chicago's new educational plan included four areas of educational emphasis:
Based on Carnovsky's study, the distribution of reading is very positively skewed, as it is in most such distributions, e.g., Bradford. Carnovsky makes this conclusion:
Even granting that some reading has taken place of which we have no record, it seems safe to conclude that the amount of reading done is disappointing. In the case of each course, were it not for a few individuals who have read somewhat extensively, the average number of books borrowed would be altogether negligible (p. 49).
Note: Carnovsky notes that while reading course related material may not have been substantial, the presence of books outside the scope of the courses (a “general collection of books” p. 50) may have been substantial. That is, the dormitory libraries may have influenced reading, just not reading for coursework. He refers to this as “independent reading” (p. 50). In light of this scenario, Carnovsky asks the following two research questions:
1. Are the heavy readers of optional books also heavy readers of independent material; and conversely, are the light readers of the optional also light readers of the independent? Or, more directly in line with the proposed hypothesis, are the heavy users of independent reading matter among the light readers of the optional (p. 50)?
2. What is the relationship between types of material read and scholarship? Are the heavy readers of independent materials good or poor students; and are the non-library users necessarily poor students (p. 51).
Note: Even though it's a minor sentence in the whole, Carnovsky makes an important conceptual distinction here:
Group two, on the other hand, contained the readers, or better, the library users (p. 52).
Note: In general, Carnovsky finds, after analyzing optional and independent reading, that there are a significant number of non-readers in this total group of students.
Note: Regarding the second question above, some interesting findings:
From the data presented it would appear that the more optional reading one does, the better one's chances for creditably passing the four general courses. This is exactly what would be expected, but it is possible to go farther. For example, the contrary does not necessarily follow: namely, that little or no optional reading is necessarily associated with poor grades (p. 54).
Note: This is not a controlled study and there are a number of errors related to sampling, mostly, but also the lack of good statistical tests at the time, that leave me doubtful of the conclusions here. But Carnovsky is aware of this limitation:
Even remembering the qualification that one year's experience with a small sample is too limited to justify generalizations … (p. 55).
Note: The next few pages discuss the reading habits of sophomores, juniors, and seniors. In short, they read more. Carnovsky discusses a few reasons why this may be the case, which I'll leave out here, and suggests some future studies that will help explore the issue.
Note: On to the reading habits of graduate students.
Note: Nice conclusion. Ties together the work done by librarians and the work done by instructors with the collective aim to pursue the University's new educational plan. Faults or no, the implementation of the educational plan really does seem like it was a collective effort.
Note: Interesting, from a historical perspective, note about the use of circulation statistics as a research instrument:
Finally, the study is perhaps worth undertaking as a demonstration of how circulation statistics may be used not only to measure the effects of instruction but also to study the similarities and differences in the reading of college students (p. 31).
This entry is about:
Stone, Charles H. (1933). Difficulties Encountered by Trained School Librarians as a Basis for the Revision of the Professional Curriculum. The Library Quarterly, 3(1), 66-86. url:http://www.jstor.org/stable/4301943
Note: The fourth article of the first issue of the third volume of The Library Quarterly is titled “Difficulties Encountered by Trained School Librarians as a Basis for the Revision of the Professional Curriculum.”
It was written by Charles H. Stone, who was affiliated with:
Affiliation: University of North Carolina, Woman's College
Note: A really interesting article on the particular needs of school librarians and their library education.
Note: The following can be generalized beyond school librarian training / education. It's a common concern:
Third, librarians going into school libraries experience greatest difficulties in problems which involve the dealing with personalities. The school library supervisors agree that this is true. In this case, again, about half of the persons reporting lack of adequate training state that library science courses could help prepare for that situation. Many comments were made to the effect that only tact, experience, or innate personality would avail (p. 80).
But there's been advancement with this.
This entry is about:
Eurich, Alvin C. (1933). Student Use of the Library. The Library Quarterly, 3(1), 87-94. url:http://www.jstor.org/stable/4301944
Note: The fifth article of the first issue of the third volume of The Library Quarterly is titled “Student use of the library.”
It was written by Alvin C. Eurich, who was affiliated with:
Affiliation: University of Minnesota
Note: A nice early study of library use. Most students, for example, during the study period checked out books in the following areas: literature (primarily English / British), history, education, economics, philosophy, and sociology. Etc. There is some disagreement between the surrounding text and the accompanying figure on page 88. In the surrounding text, the author refers to the fourth ranking item as philosophy but in the accompanying chart, it's referred to as philology and it's ranked fifth. This is because the paragraph doesn't include Education, which in the chart is ranked third. This is all from the general circulation.
Note: The author then describes the use and circulation of reserve books. The question the author is interested in, partly at least, is whether the books on reserve are serving their purpose. Seems so:
In other words, the circulation of books follows closely the number of books in each field that are placed on reserver (p. 92).
Note: Next periodicals.
A misunderstanding caused the call-slips to be destroyed for the first day of the period of observation (p. 92).
Note: On to student use of the library by ratio. The author goes to lengths to stress the difference between the ratio and the proportion of use.
Note: This is an extremely interesting comment that just comes kind of as an accident but is revealing of the times and the university movement in general:
If the new freedom that college students are being given is to develop greater initiative in the realm of scholarship, an increased use of the library should become evident (p. 94).