Lenin On Public Libraries Wanted
Richard.Bos at hagcott.meganet.co.uk
Sun Aug 4 06:35:05 MDT 1996
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> Please send me a copy of this, Richard? So that I can include it in the
> MEIA? And if you have any other goodies around the ol' HD...
> I will help the other fellow out with the letter to Sorge today when I get a
> break (I have to work half-day today).
I am enclosing the piece you asked for. It was a pig to scan (lots of
italics), as my OCR is not the best!
I've got tons of Lenin stuff, so if anyone doesn't have access to
anything that is not on the web, and you know exactly what you are
looking for...I'll do what I can to help. No promises though!
New Worker Online http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/2853
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WHAT CAN RE DONE FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION
There are quite a number of rotten prejudices current in the Western count=
ries of which Holy Mother Russia is free. They assume there, for instance, =
that huge public libraries containing hundreds of thousands and millions of=
volumes, should certainly not be reserved only for the handful of scholars=
or would-be scholars that uses them. Over there they have set themselves t=
he strange, incomprehensible and barbaric aim of making these gigantic, bou=
ndless libraries available, not to a guild of scholars, professors and othe=
r such specialists, but to the masses, to the crowd, to the mob!
What a desecration of the libraries! What an absence of the "law and order=
" we are so justly proud of. Instead of regulations, discussed and elaborat=
ed by a dozen committees of civil servants inventing hundreds of formalitie=
s and obstacles to the use of books, they see to it that even children can =
make use of the rich collections; that readers can read publicly-owned book=
s at home; they regard as the pride and glory of a public library, not the =
number of rarities it contains, the number of sixteenth-century editions or=
tenth-century manuscripts, but the extent to which hooks are distributed a=
mong the people, the number of new readers enrolled, the speed with which t=
he demand for any book is met, the number of books issued to be read at hom=
e, the number of children attracted to reading and to the use of the librar=
y.... These queer prejudices are widespread in the Western states, and we m=
ust be glad that those who keep watch and ward over us protect us with care=
and circumspection from the influence of these prejudices, protect our ric=
h public libraries from the mob, from the hoi polloi!
I have before me the report of the New York Public Library for 1911.
That year the Public Library in New York was moved from two old buildings =
to new premises elected by the city. 'The total number of books is now abou=
t two million. It so happened that the first book asked for when the readin=
g room opened its doors was in Russian. It was a work by N. Grot, The Moral=
Ideals of Our Times. The request for the book was handed in at eight minut=
es past nine in the morning. The book was delivered to the reader at nine f=
In the course of the year the library was visited by 1,658,376 people. Th=
ere were 246,950 readers using the reading--room and they took out 911,891 =
This, however, is only a small part of the book circulation effected by t=
he library. Only a few people can visit the library. The rational organisat=
ion of educational work is measured by the number of books issued to be rea=
d at home, by the conveniences available to the majority of the population.=
In three boroughs of New York--Manhatten, Bronx and Richmond--the New Yor=
k Public Library has forty-two branches and will soon have a forty-third (t=
he total population of the three boroughs is almost three million). The aim=
that is constantly pursued is to have a branch of the Public Library withi=
n three-quarters of a verst, i.e., within ten minutes' walk of the house of=
every inhabitant, the branch library being the centre of all kinds of inst=
itutions and establishments for public education.
Almost eight million (7,914,882 volumes) were issued to readers at home, 4=
00,000 more than in 1910. To each hundred members of the population of all =
ages and both sexes, 207 books were issued for reading at home in the cours=
e of the year.
Each of the forty-two branch libraries not only provides For the use of r=
eference books in the building and the issue of books to be read at home, i=
t is also a place for evening lectures, for public meetings and for rationa=
The New York Public Library contains about 15,000 books in oriental langu=
ages, about 20,000 in Yiddish and about 16,000 in the Slav languages. In th=
e main reading room there are about 20,000 books standing on open shelves f=
or general use.
The New York Public Library has opened a special, central, reading-room f=
or children, and similar institutions are gradually being opened at all bra=
nches. The librarians do everything for the children's convenience and answ=
er their questions. The number of books children took out to read at home w=
as 2,859,888, slightly under three million (more than a third of the total)=
=2E The number of children visiting the reading-room was 1,120,915.
As far as losses are concerned--the New York Public Library assesses the =
number of books lost at 70-80-90 per 100,000 issued to be read at home.
Such is the way things are done in New York. And in Russia?
Rabochaya Pravda No. 5, July 13, 1913
Collected Works, Vol. 19, pp. 277-79
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