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By creating a taste among the young for positive learning-for the real and the true, we shall establish a basis for national sentiment-pure and elevated, and destroy that fruitful source of evil which exists in the novels and romances of the present day.
H. S. Z.
NEW SCHOOL LIBRARY LAW.
[Published April 1st, 1859.)
OHAPTER COX. AN ACT to provide a permanent Township School Libra
The people of the State of Wisconsin, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:
SECTION 1, Ten per cent of the School Fund Income, subject to apportionmont in the year 1860, and annually thereafter, together with the proceeds of a special State Tax of one-tenth of one mill on the dollar valuation, shall be, and are hereby set apart, for the purpose of establishing and replenishing Town School Libraries—the Books for which to be purchased by public anthority, and distributed in some just proportion among the Towns and Cities of the State.
BEO. 2. A special annual tax of one-tenth of one mill on the dollar valuation, shall be, and is hereby levied npon the taxable property in the State, to be collected in addition to, and with the State tax levied annually to provide for the current expenditure of the State; and the proceeds of the said special tax are hereby appropriated annually for the purpose expressed in the first Section of this Act;
Sec. 8. After the present year, there shall be, and are hereby directed to be printed, folded and sewed by the State Printer, a sufficient number of extra copies of the Session Laws, Jour nals, Messages, and Documents of each year, to be placed in charge of the State Superintendent, to supply each town and city school library in the State with a set; and these volumes shall be substantially bound, in such manner as the State Superintendent, with the approval of the Governor, shall direct, at a cost not exceeding thirty cents per volume, to be paid out of the fund set apart by this Act for school library purposes.
SEO. 4. Section 76 of chapter 23 of the Revised Statutes is hereby repealed.
WM, P: LYON, Speaker of the A8&embly.
E. D. CAMPBELL, Lt. Governor and President of the Senate. Approved March 21st, 1859. ALEX, W. RANDALL,
STATE OF WISCONSIN,
SECRKTABY'S OFFICE. The Secretary of State of the State of Wisconsin, does hereby certify that the foregoing Act has been compared with the original enrolled Act deposited in this office, and that the same is a true and correct copy thereof, and of the whole of such original.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the Great Seal (L. 8.] of the State, at the Capitol in Madison, this twenty-first day of March, A.D. 1859.
D, W. JONES, Secretary of State.
REMARKS ON THE WISCONSIN TOWN SCHOOL LIBRARY
THE new School Library Law, recently enacted by our State Legislature, has four prominent provisions, namely:
1. It provides a permanent Town School Library Fund, by setting apart for this purpose ten per cent. of the School Fund Income, subject to apportionment in 1860, and annually thereafter, together with the proceeds of a special State tax, to be levied each year, of one tenth of one mill on the dollar valuation of taxable property.
2. It provides that this fund shall be set apart specifically for establishing and replenishing Town School Libraries.
3. It provides that the books for these libraries shall be purchased by public authority, and not by the local School Boards as heretofore.
4. It provides that an extra number of the State Laws, Journals, and Documents, sufficient to supply each town and city school library in the State with a set, shall be printed by the State Printer, and delivered to the State Superintendent; and that these shall be substantially bound, nnder the direction of the State Superintendent, with the approval of the Governor, at a cost not exceeding thirty cents per volume, to be paid out of the School Library Fund.
The precise manner in which the books shall be purchased and distributed, except that they shall be purchased "by public authority," and “disttibuted in some just proportion among the towns and cities of the State,” is not specified in the Act. As the means for the first purchase can not, from the terms of the law, be collected and ready for use until next spring, it was thought best not to encumber the Act with details, which might have embarrassed and endangered its passage. These details, providing for the selection and purchase of the books, their distribution, and regulations for the management of the libraries, will be carefully con.
sidered by Hon. Henry Barnard, the Superintendent of Pablic Instruction; and Prof. J. L. Pickard, of the Platteville Academy, who have been appointed by the Legislature to make such revision of the School Laws of the State as they may think necessary, and report the same to the Governor in season to be by him sabmitted to the next Legislature for its consideration. It need only be said in this connection, that every precaution will be taken to guard the interests of the State, and prevent, by every restriction of law, the possibility of swindling or cheating in the contract for the books—for upon the faithful investment of this sacred fund will much of the popularity and usefulness of this law depend.?
There probably never was a measure involving new and additional taxation that ever passed the Legislature with such great unanimity. The Superintendent's Report, which strongly urged the Town Library system, was not laid before the Legislature until three weeks before its adjournment; Mr. Barnard, who had been confidently expected here, and whose personal efforts and experience were greatly counted on in aid of the measure, was detained in Connecticut by severe illness; and the Library Law was not introduced until within eight working days of the close of the session—and notwithstanding all these untoward circumstances, yet this new measure—a tax measure, too, in these stringent times--passed both houses most triuinphantly, by a vote of 19 to 13 in the Senate, and 51 to 10 in the Assembly; or, in the aggregate, by a yote of 70 to 13. I have no doubt that the men who supported this noble and beneficent measure, will long be remembered with honor and gratitude by an intelligent and appreciating people.
This School Library Fund will amount to at least $35,000 annually, and will gradually increase in proportion to the increase of the School Fund Income, and the increase of the taxable property of the State. There will be something like $18,000 a year from the School Fund Income; and oneteuth of a mill tax on the dollar valuation, on $175,000,000 of taxable property in the State, as equalized last year, would realize $17,500—if the taxable property should be equalized, as it may be, at two hundred millions, then the income from the special Library Tax will amount to $20,000 annually. I should conclude that the Library Fund will reach not less than $40,000 a year, within the next three years. But estimating it at $35,000 it would give, on an average, to each of the 650 towns and cities of the State $53 per year in books at wholesale rates ; and deducting the probable pro rata for the cities and villages, there would be about $40, upon an average, to each of the rural towns. Estimating the present population of the State at 850,000, and dividing it by the number of towns and cities, we should have an average of 1,333 persons for each town and city; and $40 or $50 per year in books, for this number would appear
but a very moderate investment. This amount, though small, will, nevertheless, afford a respectable beginning for a Town School Library, when a similar amount will be added annually thereafter,
A single volume may serve as many as twenty-six persons a year, each having its use two weeks; and many School Libraries have reported twelve times the number of books loaned annually that there were in the library-each volume, upon an average, having been taken out once & month during the entire year. In the reports of the Town Libraries of Indiana, occur such expressions as the following, which will not be lost on the public mind:
Nearly all of the books have been drawn out as many as twenty-five times, many of them oftener, and many of the books are not permitted to remain in the library an hour before they are withdrawn.”
“Our library is doing more good than any thing that has ever been done by the Legislature of this State. Great interest is manifested in it here.”
I may state as the result of ten years' experience of the District Library system in Wisconsin, that only about one-third of the districts have any libraries at all, and those generally 80 small as scarcely to deserve the name—averaging less than 28 volumes each-and hence have utterly failed to fulfill the great mission of School Libraries. That what few books have thus been collected, have been procured at high prices of book pedlars, and have but too generally related to Banditti and Robbers, the Pirate's Oron Book, and other trashy and injurious works, which could only incite in the minds of cbildren a desire themselves to become desperadoes.
Had we continued the District Library plan in our State, and continued to leave the districts to procure a library or not, as they might elect, so long would the library system of Wisconsin, it seems to me, have proved å signal failure; but, with the Toron Library plan, as it is in Indiana, Obio, and Michigan, the State providing the libraries for each town, according to some just system of distribution, carefully selecting books suitable to meet the tastes and wants of all classes of community, replenishing them annually, so as to keep each collection fresh and attractive, we shall have, in each library several times the number and variety of books that any district plan could ever possess. For instance, suppose each of a dozen districts in a town was to have ten new volumes for a new library, or for replenishing an old one—the same ten volumes that would be best and cheapest for one, would be best and cheapest for all; so that in all the twelve districts there would be, in trath, but ten different works; while upon the Township plan, there would be a hundred and trenty different
works for the same money. Any one can readily see how much more attractive the large number would be to both youth and adults; how many more tastes would be gratified; and how much more knowledge would necessarily be diffused among the people. The same amount of money expended on the district plan will, by a judicious State system, purchase onethird more volumes, besides securing a vastly better selection, and haviog the advantage of a uniform and far more permanent style of bioding. According to the old district plan, we should always bave had small and almost worthless libraries ; by the Township system we shall scon have large, attractive, and invaluable collections; and instead of only about one-third of the State, as is now the case, having a few ill-chosen volumes, every town in Wisconsin will, by the new system, soon have its solid library of the choicest works to gladden the young minds of our two handred and sity-four thousand children, and furnish mental food for our other six hundred thousand people.
I presume that provision will be made, that should the citizens of any town deem proper, they may sub-divide their Town Library into two or three sections, and have them placed in as many convenient localities for six months or a year, and then interchange these sections with the other localities, and so in due time, the several sections, or sub-divisions of the Library, would be placed within the reach of every part of the town, thus subserving nearly every facility of the District Library, with the most decided super-added advantages.
As an instance illustrative of the strong feeling of attachment with which the Township Libraries are regarded where they have been established and tested, and how cheerfully the expense is borne by the people, I cite the following from an excellent address by Prof Read, of our State University :
“I will give the substance of a conversation which I bad during my recent visit to Indiana, while in the Auditor's office, examining the most beautiful series of books, the Indiana School Library. A farmer from the remotest township of the county came in. After a little, I said to
"Gentry, you are heavily taxed here in Indiana; I have been running away to Wisconsin, where they have no old dead horses in the form of canals to pay for, and no interest to pay on bonds which our sharp-sighted Indiana Commissioners were cheated out of.'
16 Well,' said he, we are heavily taxed, and this year, with our short crops and hard prices, it is as much as we can do, in our neighborhood, to pay our taxes.'
6. But,' I said to him, “it will be the policy of this Legislature to diminish taxation.'