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In the preparation of the following sketches, the compiler has placed a lib-eral construction on the term "public libraries," and has made it include all collections of books that are open to the public either for circulation or reference.
It was the original purpose of the Library Commission to have the work ready for the Public Printer by January, 1901. The resolution authorizing this publication made no provision for clerical assistance in the preparation of the work, which fell to the lot of the state librarian, in addition to the usual duties of his office in an unusually busy year. The work required extended correspondence and was dependent entirely upon the voluntary assistance of those in charge of the libraries represented. Responses to requests for sketches and statistics came in very slowly. Some of the larger and more important libraries of the state were latest in furnishing this material, and some have necessarily been omitted because of their failure to co-operate. This has made it absolutely impossible to procure material for a creditable publication at an earlier date. Delays, under the circumstances, were to have been expected. This is the first attenmpt at such a work in Ohio. It is hoped that when a second edition is issued the difficulties attending this venture will be in a measure avoided.
By reference to the following pages it will be found that the free library movement in Ohio is still in its infancy. Only sixty-seven free circulating and reference libraries are reported in the state. Ohio suffers by comparison with many other states. There was a time when she held high rank in this important field. Recent years have witnessed a revival of interest which the friends of the library movement believe to be prophetic of better things to follow. This has been accentuated and accelerated by the intelligent philanthropy of Andrew Carnegie. Many of his gifts have been made since the following sketches went to press. Appropriate recognition of his munificence must be left to a future publication.
The total number of volumes in all libraries reported is 2,300,074. Of these, 2,099,276 are bound, and 200,798 are unbound.
In the meantime, while we may not boast of our number of free libraries, we may console ourselves with the reflection that Ohio has recently contributed to the library cause some features that are unique, original and worthy of imitation. The county library, suggested by Governor Salmon P. Chase as early as 1857, has become a reality. The plan is on trial, and reference to the sketches of the Cincinnati Public Library and the Brumback Library of Van Wert county cannot fail to convince the reader that the plan is a demonstrated success and inspire the hope that an important step has been taken toward the solution of the library problem. It is encouraging, in this connection, to note that very recently a county library law, including among its provisions practically all of the features of the act which made the Brumback Library possible, has been enacted in one of our most progressive states. Some one has said that in educational matters Ohio is a good follower. In the county library device, she bids fair to lead.
The traveling library system, state and local, gains steadily in popularity. It is believed that the work done through this agency in Ohio, all things considered, will compare most favorably with that done in any other state. This is fully set forth in the history of the traveling library department of the Ohio State Library and the interesting sketch of the Free Traveling School Library of Franklin county.
"The Public Library in Ohio," by an eminent educator of the state, and the full history of the school library of Ohio, included in the sketch of the Columbus School Library are contributions of permanent value. The tabulated statistics are self-explanatory. The list of libraries is not so complete as desired, but it includes more names of Ohio libraries than have recently appeared in a single publication.
The Legislature made no provision for illustrations. Those found on the following pages were furnished at the expense of the libraries they represent.
With many thanks to all who have in any way assisted, and apologies to those who early responded to requests for material and have waited long and patiently, the first edition of the Sketches of Ohio Libraries is respectfully submitted, in the ihope that it may prove helpful to librarians and “stimulate library extension.”
C. B. GALBREATH, State Librarian and Secretary of the Library Commission.
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