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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Toronto’s Free Library: Facts for the Citizens (1881) by John Taylor

Toronto’s Free Library: Facts for the Citizens by John Taylor. Toronto: n.p., signed 25 October 1881,  4 p., tables.

John Taylor was born in Leek, Staffordshire, England, in 1841. He came to Canada as a teenager with his family when he was fourteen. His early business training was with Taylor Brothers, paper makers, a firm that was at the forefront in an expanding paper industry based on the use of wood pulp. After leaving the firm, John ventured into the commission business with J.L. Morrison. He eventually established his own major factory specializing in the manufacture of soap, John Taylor & Company, on the Don River.

Taylor became a director of the Toronto Mechanics' Institute in the 1870s, showing an interest in the welfare and education of working people. He was treasurer of the Institute in 1880. He was also a member and president of the St. George's Society which sought to assist immigrants and those in need.  He also entered the arena of politics, serving as an alderman and school trustee. By 1881, he was becoming a promoter of a public library in Toronto with the publication of a short booklet, Toronto’s Free Library. Along with John Hallam, Taylor became a leading exponent of free library service for Toronto residents, although their ideas were not entirely in unison despite the Grip illustration caption from March 25, 1882.

Taylor's small tract begins with a statement that Toronto was in need of the intelligence a free library could provide for its future welfare and good government. Taylor, like his friend John Hallam and many others, believed in cultural accessibility and the communication of ideas to society through systematic education. Books and magazines could help explain the organization and processes of government and help explain current issues. Libraries could also provide resources to study social conditions. Already, in the United States and Great Britain, libraries were in operation affording free reading to thousands of people. Taylor offers examples of libraries in America, Britain, France, and Australia to buttress his point and, to counter skeptics, asserts that "it must not be taken for granted that reading for amusement is the sole aim of a rate-supported library." As well, he offers another argument based on his view of democratic political life in North America:
Free libraries are certainty not so numerous in Great Britain as in the United States. Class distinction is much more clearly marked in the Old World than on this side the Atlantic, and that same wave of democracy that has done so much to merge classes and creeds among our neighbours will no doubt in time reach the Dominion without necessarily weakening the loyalty of the people."
Taylor, like his friend Hallam and most Ontarians, was reluctant to disassociate his promotion of libraries from the preservation of the British connection. He was more concerned with a practical scheme for Toronto.
There are two feasible methods of establishing a library from municipal funds. One plan—advanced by my colleague in the Council, Alderman Hallam—is to forestall and fund a portion of the rate so as to erect handsome and suitable buildings at once and fill (or partially fill) them with say 60,000 or 80,000 volumes the first year. The other plan would be to commence on a more moderate scale and spend the money in books, etc., as it is granted. Either way would secure a grand result for any corporation availing itself of the Act. I would advance such an establishment that the maintenance thereof would not exceed $5000 a year for Librarian, Assistants, Caretaker, gas, etc., so that the purchase account for new books, periodicals and newspapers may be as large as possible.
Taylor even suggested a civic museum could be established with the free library and that the cost to a small householder would only be about twenty-five cents a year, the price of one dinner at a farmer's hotel! At civic elections held at the start of the new year, in January 1883, Toronto's ratepayers voted in favour of the ballot question to establish a library thereby authorizing the city council to establish a bylaw for its creation. Like his aldermanic counterpart, John Hallam, does not reference the term "democracy."  He is content to postulate that the library would ultimately contribute to a better-educated citizenry.

Taylor's contribution to the establishment of Toronto's free library was satirized by Grip on December 2nd, 1882. In time, Taylor, and other directors of the Toronto Mechanics' Institute, came to favour a third option, i.e., the transfer of property belonging to the Institute to the municipality for free library purposes according to Ontario's 1882 Free Libraries Act. On 29 March 1883, at a special general meeting, the Institute's directors (which included Taylor) voted to transfer all its property (and liabilities) to the city of Toronto. Later, on 20 June, the transfer deed giving legal effect was executed. The institute formally reopened on 6 March 1884 as Toronto's free library on the corner of Church and Adelaide Streets. John Taylor served as chair of the new Toronto Public Library in 1885 and continued on its Board of Management until January 1900.

John Taylor's short pamphlet is available at Canadiana Online.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Notes by the Way on Free Libraries and Books (1882) by John Hallam

Notes by the Way on Free Libraries and Books with a Plea for the Establishment of Rate-Supported Libraries in the Province of Ontario by John Hallam. Toronto: Globe Printing Company, 1882, 36 p. tables.

John Hallam was born in Chorley, Lancashire, England, in 1833, the son of a poor workingman. When he was still a boy, he worked in a cotton mill to help his parents. In his early twenties, Hallam emigrated to Canada, arriving in Toronto in 1856. For several years he took on menial work as a labourer but managed to save money to open a small business as a hide, wool and leather merchant. Through his own exertions and business acumen he developed a thriving business that became a leading Canadian importer and exporter, including a branch plant in Winnipeg. A political Liberal of the Lancashire type who preferred individual liberties, popular suffrage (including universal suffrage for women), and free trade, Hallam was out of step with the established Conservative norms which characterized "Tory Toronto;" nevertheless, he entered municipal politics in 1870 as an alderman, a position he held at different intervals for the next three decades. He campaigned unsuccessfully for mayor in 1900, finishing third. Hallam died shortly afterward at his residence on Isabella Street, Linden Villa. He was civic-minded and was one of the first directors of the Canadian National Exhibition which opened in 1879. Today, his original summer property in Rosedale, Chorley Park, continues to be enjoyed by Toronto residents with its quiet walkways and small gardens. Another notable civic contribution, of course, is the Toronto Public Library, one of the busiest public libraries in North America.

Because his personal interest leaned to book collecting, it is not surprising that John Hallam eventually became a prominent library promoter as well. He was treasurer of the Toronto Mechanics' Institute in 1871. His survey of libraries and call for the establishment of free library legislation was published in early 1882, Notes by the Way on Free Libraries and Books. His pamphlet was the summary of his inquiries by letter and personal visits to England, France, and Germany in the course of his travels, particularly in 1881. Hallam had already proposed the formation of a library in Toronto at the outset of 1881 and contacted both the Minister of Education, Adam Crooks, and Premier, Oliver Mowat, about the need for enabling legislation. The alderman made a forthright statement for rate-supported public libraries in his preface:
Free public libraries, to be useful and successful, must be rate supported, and free from the tedious formalities of an educational department, and represent every phase of human thought and opinion, every class and condition of men, and be absolutely free from all political and sectarian influences. They are the institutions of the people. They must initiate, manage and pay for their support.
In the opening pages of his work, Hallam stressed the value of reading and books. "Books are the records of human feeling, opinion, action and experience; and though the mere form of such records may have differed in different ages, the desire for and creation of such records have been inseparable from the career of mankind" (p. 8). His argument ranged from the Egyptian pharaohs, the library of Alexandria, the medieval period, and modern Europe, punctuated with quotes from celebrated authors such as Cicero and Milton. He emphasized that classroom education in the schools and self-education in adult life were the keys to a successful life.

Hallam followed with a description of library progress in France, Germany, and Great Britain which was the focus of his tract. He defended novel reading in a section on Leicester and praised the work being done in Birmingham and Manchester. Liverpool, Bradford, and Preston also received his attention. He had less information on American states, Edinburgh, and Dublin, but noted the evolution of thought in public library thinking after 1850. Of course, Hallam followed the conventional contemporary interpretation of Canadian ties to Britain and its imperial economic and cultural successes unlike Goldwin Smith's view of continental linkages with the United States.

Hallam also wrote about Canadian developments, such as they were. Most of his comments were directed to Egerton Ryerson's free libraries in schools which had been mostly "abandoned" by the government of the day. However, Hallam cleverly framed his central line of reasoning: "I put the question, that if a municipal tax freely voted by the people for the support of common schools works wisely and well, surely a rate for libraries must work in the same way" (p. 28). In a few paragraphs he sketched a plan for provincial legislation in Ontario to allow the formation of free public libraries. This would require the successful vote of the ratepayers in a city, town, or village to permit a suggested annual 1/2 mill rate, an expression of direct democracy through a referendum. He does not provide further details (such as the administration of libraries) but does provide insight into what he, a good liberal Victorian committed to cultural elevation, felt should be in the circulating collections.
I think the ingredients of such a library should be as general, as attractive and as fascinating as possible. I would have in a library of this sort a grand and durable foundation of solid, standard, fact literature. I would have a choice, clean-minded, finely imaginative superstructure of light reading. The vulgar, the sensuously sensational, the garbage of the modern press, I would most scrupulously avoid, just as I would avoid dirt and the devil. I would have everything in a library of this kind useful and captivating; mentally speaking, there should be nothing nasty and nothing dull in it. Next to dirty reading, for badness of effect, is dull reading. (p. 30-31)
Hallam then closed his arguments by summarizing his rationale for free library support. He maintained that free libraries were "profitable investments" for the public that developed a taste for reading, offered paths of study, and diverted working-men from street corners or "dram shops." They introduced the great minds of the past to new readers, promoted public virtue and enlightenment, and influenced social order, respectability, and intelligence. Thus, "by developing these virtues amongst the multitude, they [libraries] must necessarily diminish the ranks of those two great armies which are constantly marching to gaols and penitentiaries, and in the same ratio they must decrease the sums of money which ratepayers have to provide for the maintenance of those places" (p. 31). Ultimately, he contended that it was wiser to pay for intelligence than to tolerate ignorance.

John Hallam and his fellow alderman, John Taylor, were important promoters of free public library service in Toronto. Taylor also published a short tract, Toronto's Free Library, earlier in 1881, proposing the adoption of rate support of a 1/2 mill on the dollar. But Hallam's work was more detailed and specific about the purpose and benefits of free libraries. Although he does not reference the word "democracy," he calls upon the active, direct participation of citizens through the municipal referendum process to authorize the formation of libraries and thereby support the concept of rate-support for collections to be available freely to citizens. The library as a separate institution would be managed publicly, separate from the school system. Its resources could assist citizens to make better decisions than being left in ignorance, a vital ingredient in democratic life. Through the activity of self-education people could learn more about science and technology, business, government, medicine, and many other subjects.

Canada's essential democratic values in the British North America Act were "peace, order, and good government." Good government conducted in an orderly fashion through public consent was a keystone of political thinking during this period. The idea of common good through the power of popular government buttressed by public support shines through Hallam's Notes. This democratic impulse is similar to the development of Ontario's school system -- the advancement of knowledge and learning in an expanding population and electorate.

Hallam's efforts were rewarded when the Ontario government enacted the Free Libraries Act in 1882, an earlier blog I posted in November 2017. Toronto availed itself of this enabling legislation in January 1883 by a two-thirds majority of eligible votes cast, 5405 to 2862. Of course, in a city of 90,000 population, property or income qualifications excluded many workers from voting in annual municipal elections or on referenda. Not surprisingly, Hallam became the library's first chairperson later in the same year. His friend, John Taylor, followed as chair in 1885.

On 24 December 1881, the satirical magazine, Grip, invoked the spirit of  Christmas on behalf of a free library in Toronto. It commented on a drawing that "Santa Claus shall not fail to bring it in due time," a prediction that proved to be correct.

A short contemporary biography on John Hallam from the mid-1880s is available in George Maclean Rose's Cyclopaedia of Canadian Biography.

John Hallam's Notes by the Way on Free Libraries can be read at the Internet Archive.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Les Bibliothèques Populaires (1890) by Eugène Rouillard

Les Bibliothèques Populaires by Eugène Rouillard. Québec: L.-J. Demers & Frère, 1890. 61 p.

Eugène Rouillard was a man of many talents. He was born in Québec City in 1851 and died there in 1926 after a long career as a notary, journalist and writer, civil servant, and geographer. He studied at the Université Laval from 1872-75 and graduated with a degree in law. Although he was notary at the beginning of his career, he turned to journalism as a writer and editor of newspapers and then to work in government positions for three decades. In his government positions he dealt with a wide variety of issues, such as land sales, colonization issues, and lawsuits. Rouillard came to be well respected by contemporaries: he became a member of the Société du Parler Français au Canada, the Geographical Society of Quebec, and, in 1915, the Royal Society of Canada. He was grounded in the political life of his home province and his journalistic and civil service background familiarized him with Anglo-Saxon concepts of government and civil society with respect to public services. He was the author of a number of books: Our Rivers and Lakes (1895); The White Coal: The Water-Powers of the Province of Quebec (1909), and an important work on public libraries which will be discussed here.

Rouillard was one of a number of Canadian library promoters agitating for free public libraries after 1880. John Hallam, in Toronto, was notably successful after publishing his Notes by the Way on Free Libraries and Books with a Plea for the Establishment of Rate-Supported Libraries in the Province of Ontario in 1882. The Saint John Free Library, which opened in 1883, owed much to the work of Colonel James Domville and a committee of women headed by Miss Manning Skinner. In Montreal, the bequest of Hugh Fraser led to the establishment of the Fraser Institute, open free to the public in 1885. There many other people in localities across Canada--enough to label their activity as the "public library movement." By 1891, Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec had all passed provincial laws enabling municipalities to support free public libraries through regular taxation.

Les Bibliothèques Populaires (1890) appeared at a time when public library development in Canada, especially Quebec, was at an early stage. There were a variety of interpretations about "bibliothèques populaires", i.e. "popular libraries" or "libraries for the people" as they were known in Europe, especially France. These libraries usually concentrated on recreational rather than educational collections. In North America, public libraries might be regarded simply as library that was not a personal collection, as libraries for public access resulting from private initiatives (e.g., the Fraser Institute opened in Montreal), as libraries established by an organization requiring small fees for public use, or as municipally rate-supported public institutions that allowed local residents free access to reading materials at the point of entry. It was this last sense that drew Rouillard's interest and led him to publish his pamphlet promoting public libraries in the same year that the Quebec provincial government, under the premiership of Honoré Mercier, was about to issue legislation authorizing cities, towns, and villages to support free libraries (or library associations and mechanics' institutes) through taxation (54 Vic., chap. 34, sec. 1-3). The promotion of free public libraries -- primarily a British and American ideal in 1890 -- might be construed as liberal politics. But it seems that Rouillard leaned more to the reformist politics that the Mercier government practiced in asserting Quebec's position in Confederation. Rouillard repeatedly mentions that free libraries complemented the evening courses for the working class that Mercier's nationalist party had created: "En un mot, la bibliothèque est le complément indispensable de l'école; l'une ne peut aller sans l'autre" (p. 18). Rouillard contended that the state owed the working class improved educational opportunities.

In two short sections, Rouillard surveys the development of free public libraries in the United States (p. 26-36). He was particularly impressed by the Chicago and Boston libraries which had grown rapidly after the 1850s. Magnificent donations to build libraries by John Jacob Astor (New York) and Andrew Carnegie (Pittsburgh) also drew his admiration: "les millionnaires qui se font non seulement un devoir, mais encore un honneur et une gloire de doter leur ville natale d'une bibliothèque à l'usage du peuple" (p. 31). Also, American states had established state laws that permitted municipalities to fund public libraries on an unprecedented scale. He wrote that Canada lagged far behind America both in philanthropic efforts to establish libraries and in government support.

Developments in Europe were also explored. He notes that fourteen free popular libraries already were receiving city ​​council grants in Paris. In Britain, public library legislation had been introduced years before in 1850. Rouillard's argumentation went beyond the free distribution of reading material in libraries. He claimed that many cities and towns in England, France, Switzerland, Belgium, and Germany offered regular evening courses and public speakers who gave their time and their knowledge for free as well.

But in Quebec, there was much work to be done to reach a similar state enjoyed by working-class people in the United State and Europe. "Dans la province de Québec — il faut bien le confesser — nous sommes encore sous ce rapport dans la première enfance" (p. 45). By comparison, Ontario was comfortably ahead: there were several free libraries and a host of libraries and evening classes of varying degree in mechanics' institutes. Rouillard accepted the idea that the education of the people was a legitimate concern of localities: "Aussi, je prétends que la ville qui veut avoir une bibliothèque chez elle doit intervenir et payer sa quote-part des frais généraux" (p. 57). Legislative grants from provincial governments were not incentive enough, each city or town must do its part. The generosity of Andrew Carnegie might not be matched in dollars, but there were rich men from the ranks of commerce and industry in Quebec who might be expected to support libraries. Rouillard concluded that the idea of popular libraries that had been launched was too noble, too big, too beautiful, and too patriotic not to catch on and flourish in the future (p. 61).

The pamphleteer made a good case in 1890, but it would be many decades before Montreal would adopt the public library concept he was advocating. At this time, the predominant position of most French Canadian leaders espoused the idea of a separate national identity for the Québécois people rather than the adoption of  Anglo-American conventions. When a proposal to use a $150,000 Carnegie grant for a new central library was floated by the mayor of Montreal in 1901, it was not accepted. The opening of a new municipal public library building on Sherbrooke Street in 1917 was of long gestation. By this time, Rouillard's treatise, grounded in the political life of Quebec in 1890, was less relevant. Nevertheless, today, when thousands of people enter the Grande Bibliothèque on Montreal's De Maisonneuve Boulevard every week, one can see that Rouillard's fundamental insight and rationale for the provision of free municipal libraries more than a century ago -- the expansion of knowledge in his home province -- was justified. In this respect, his work will reward students of library history and deepen our knowledge about the development of Canadian public libraries.

Eugène Rouillard's work is online at the Internet Archive

Rouillard's biography is available in English and French at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography site.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Library, the School and the Child (1917) by John Whitehall Emery

The Library, the School and the Child by J.W. Emery. Toronto: Macmillan Co., 1917. ix, 216 pages, illus. Published version of Emery's Doctor of Pedagogy dissertation at the University of Toronto.

John Whitehall Emery was born in 1871 in New Sarum, a rural community southeast of London, Ont. He went to school locally and graduated from high school at Aylmer Collegiate Institute. Then he taught public school in Elgin County until he entered the University of Toronto in 1893. Shortly after, he recommenced teaching science at high schools in Kemptville and Port Hope for several years before returning to Toronto in 1902-04 to earn his bachelor's degree. He continued teaching, notably at the Stratford Normal School for teachers. He earned his doctorate in 1917 and then resumed work at the teachers' training school. He also was chair and secretary-treasurer of the Stratford Public Library in the early 1920s. He died in London in 1929.

Emery's thesis dealt with two major topics. First, in five chapters he studied the work of public libraries for children as public school pupils and as children. Second, in his following six chapters he treated government efforts in the United States, Canada, and Britain, to provide books for the young through school libraries.

At this time, public library provision of books for schools in the USA was a prominent feature of work at Buffalo, Cleveland, and Newark. The classroom library was the preferred choice and heavily used in these cities, although a branch library in a school was an occasional option. Cooperation on a local level with teachers for a variety of reference, picture collections, and professional texts, etc., also was a common practice. Children's departments and story hours in public libraries were another topic Emery examined and he provided interesting information on subjects such as "home libraries" for students who could share books with friends. Another topic included librarians working in playgrounds where many children who did not normally have access to books were active in the summer months.

Children's work in Canada was less developed. Activity in Canadian public libraries received attention in one chapter and remains a valuable starting point in histories. Emery surveyed pioneering efforts in many cities: Sarnia, Toronto, Ottawa, Victoria, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Westmount, and Saint John to name a few. Emery reveals some interesting statistics, for example, he notes that Winnipeg was circulating 300,000 (!!) books to children in 1915. In his opinion, Victoria "has one of the most advanced children's departments in Canada, and keeps in close touch with the schools as well" (p. 94). This is not surprising because the chief librarian, Helen Gordon Stewart (who Emery does not name) had taught in Manitoba before getting library training in New York in 1908-09 and taking up work in British Columbia.

Two chapters featured the early school libraries (mostly in township school sections) in Ontario under Egerton Ryerson and also the development of district school libraries in the United States. Emery was especially impressed with the contemporary California county system whereby schools could affiliate with the county public library system and participate in the benefits of centralized, professionally trained library services, and coordinated book purchases and distribution. However, this type of service would not develop until after his death, notably in southwestern Ontario counties, in the 1930s. He provides a good survey of current (i.e., post-1900) conditions in Ontario's rural school libraries and even provides illustrations (p. 152) to show the gradual evolution of under the direction of interested teachers.

After 1902, Ontario's provincial government reintroduced small grants (cancelled in 1888) to rural schools in order to encourage library development in 5,000 school sections. However, as Emery notes, public libraries and especially the Ontario Library Association did little to further public library-school library cooperation despite efforts of members such as James P. Hoag, a teacher and school inspector and library promoter, and William F. Moore (OLA President in 1913-14), the Principal of Dundas High School for three decades. There is an informative short chapter on the work of several education departments in other provinces as well.

J.W. Emery's thesis came at an opportune time. In the USA, a School Libraries Section of the American Association of School Librarians was beginning its activities and after the end of WW I the Ontario Department of Education began to take more interest in teacher training in library work. Librarians, such as Jean Merchant at the Normal School in Toronto, and others were being appointed (and trained in library work) as librarians and instructors at normal schools in Ontario. This action can be attributed in part to Emery's thesis completed in 1917. On balance, Emery found the success of school libraries was due in most part to the attentiveness and training of teachers in library work. After surveying teacher training in library methods and the libraries in normal schools (p. 160-173), which were mainly managed by the principal's secretary at each school, he recommended Ontario's normal schools follow American precedents. Emery made a number of suggestions, the most important being (p. 206-208) --
1) to have all students attend a course in library instruction that included reference work, children's literature, and rural school library administration;
2) to permanently engage a regularly qualified librarian with teaching experience for each normal school;
3) to equip each normal school with a model rural school library;
4) to establish in each of the normal schools a collection of fifty or more of the best children's picture books and story books for the very young;
5) to permit normal schools to make small loans of books or pictures to teachers of rural schools in the vicinity.

Of course, not all Emery's suggestions were adopted, but his work formed a basis for more standardized work in bringing library methods to the fore in teacher training. Although his publication was a doctorate, Emery had a pragmatic touch due to his careful survey of library conditions. His work continues to impress a century later. His suggestions for books for rural schools, such as Thompson Seton's Lobo, Rag, and Vixen; Johnny Crow's Garden by Leslie Brooke, the Canada Year Book, or Herrington's Heroines of Canadian History reached a variety of interests and ages in elementary education. Emery's bibliography of school library work is also very useful: he mentions works by early promoters such as Harry Farr in Britain, John Cotton Dana and Frances Jenkins Olcott in the USA that are important for writing the history of school libraries.

Emery's death in 1929 cut short his career before his sixtieth birthday, nonetheless he made a lasting contribution to the development of teacher training for school libraries in Ontario.

Emery's publication is available online at the Internet Archive.

Friday, November 08, 2019

The Public Library: Its Place in Our Educational System (1912) by Edwin Austin Hardy

The Public Library: Its Place in our Educational System by Edwin Austin Hardy. Toronto: William Briggs, 1912. ii, 223 p., illus., tables, appendices. Published version of Hardy's Doctor of Paedagogy dissertation.

Edwin Austin Hardy, who was born in New Hampshire in 1867, was a teacher, author, and library advocate. When he was still a child his family moved to Uxbridge, Ontario, where he received his early education. Eventually, he received a BA at the University of Toronto in 1888. He then took teacher training and taught in Lindsay where he became a trustee at the Mechanics' Institute in 1894. Although teaching was Hardy's profession, he also promoted public libraries. In 1899, Lindsay became a free public library and Carnegie money was granted to open a new building in 1904. Hardy was one of the founders of the Ontario Library Association (OLA) in 1900 and he worked tirelessly as its Secretary from 1900-25 before serving as President in 1925-26. Hardy moved to Toronto to organize work with the Sunday Schools Associations of Ontario in 1904, to be President of Moulton Ladies' College in 1906, and then a teacher of English and History at Jarvis Street Collegiate in 1910. He retired in 1936.

Hardy was a progressive organizer in the Victorian mold and held many interests. He helped found the Toronto High School Teachers' Association in 1903 and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation in 1919. He also helped found the Canadian Teachers' Federation in 1920 and was active as an officer in the World Federation of Education Associations and the Canadian Authors' Association. He was chair of the Toronto Board of Education in 1940 and pursued activities in the League of Empire and Health League of Canada. Hardy received the Order of the British Empire for his outstanding community work in 1935.

From a library perspective, Hardy's efforts in his role as secretary of OLA to promote public libraries, trustee governance, and library training were significant. But another prominent achievement was his 1912 doctorate on public libraries and an historical account of their development in Ontario. His work reviewed the development of libraries and provided an influential account of activities that libraries could undertake to improve the lives of individuals and, by extension, society. This will be the focus of my post.

Hardy arrived on the library scene at an important moment in 1895 when the Ontario legislature introduced an Act to amend and consolidate the Acts respecting Free Libraries and Mechanics' Institutes (58 Vic., Cap. 45). One section of this act provided that every free library and every Mechanics' Institute would be called a "Public Library." Hardy felt that this terminology "had something to do with their progress since [1895], especially in the developing of public interest in their management and betterment" (p. 42-43). Of course, Hardy was thinking of larger "public libraries" that were supported by mandated municipal levies raised in cities and towns rather than the vast number of smaller "public libraries" in Ontario that subsisted on membership fees, fundraising, and modest grants from local and provincial governments. Hardy foresaw a bright future for this first type of public library: "Its possibilities are only now being recognized by our legislative and educational authorities and by the public, in fact, even by library workers themselves. But it is coming to its own, slowly at first, but gathering force and speed daily, and the near future will see the public library system of Ontario as efficient as her primary and secondary school system" (p. 123-124). Despite many societal changes, Hardy's prediction for the most part has stood the test of time for more than a century.

Hardy's outline of the early 20th-century library purposes, activities, and educational work, as well as the factors contributing to the success of Ontario's public libraries may seem somewhat simplistic or outdated by today's standards, but they were by no means entirely acceptable to all his contemporaries. In fact, Hardy's treatise was ahead of his time and filled with suggestions for improving early 20th-century libraries. In many ways, his thesis is representative of classic arguments and conditions that existed for more than half a century when public libraries in Ontario (and Canada) were establishing firmer, more systematic roots on a provincial basis. It was the full-blown era of the "public library movement" when enthusiastic citizens in many urban communities agitated for municipal rate-supported libraries that would allow free access to people in local communities. By the mid-1920s all of Ontario's larger cities had established free public libraries.

Concerning the purpose of public libraries (aka, today's mission statement) and its general operation, Hardy advocated that they provide 1) a selection of the "best books" of general, scientific and reference literature; 2) recreative "good" fiction which would reach a broader public; 3) books and story hours for children of all ages; 4) current periodical holdings to satisfy a variety of community interests; 5) properly classified and catalogued collections (Hardy favoured the Dewey Decimal system and card catalogues); 6) open access to collections; and 7) effective publicity ("The public must be made to know and to feel that the library belongs to them and not to the librarian or the Board", p. 80)

Concerning the important educative value of public libraries, Hardy outlined a number of activities:
Technical Education -- provision and promotion of books for engineering and industrial training
Commercial and Agricultural Education -- materials for bookkeeping, accounting, banking,
transportation, etc. to serve commercial growth and rural progress
Musical Education -- a variety materials (possibly sheet music as well)
Art Education -- books, catalogues, reproduction, photographs, etc.
Domestic Education -- resources for the home, its furnishings, maintenance, and health
Political Education -- newspapers, public documents, statues, legislative materials, etc. In an era before women were legally able to vote, Hardy was particularly keen to satisfy the needs of lawyers and students of politics (the "young men entering the field of public life", p. 94)
Medical and Legal Education -- mostly books for serious study or reference concerns
Teachers' Institutes -- materials that could bring teachers in closer touch with the public library
Local Clubs and Societies -- space for local organizations to house their holdings
Travelling Libraries -- a centre for local study groups to access the Ontario Department of Education's book service which continued until the early 1960s
Lecture Rooms in the Library -- "Lecture courses, debating societies, library institutes, and all such intellectual activities, find themselves in a congenial atmosphere in library buildings" (p. 97)
The Library and the School -- Hardy summarizes several ways that the public library and school might operate to the benefit of students and community life but did not advocate one over the other.

Concerning the successful administration and management of libraries, Hardy felt that Ontario was on the right track in several sections. It began with contemporary Legislative Assistance and Supervision which was now greatly improved. Only the inadequacy of the staff in the Inspector of Public Libraries office was holding back progress at the provincial level. Library Boards held the power of management and were optimally representative of their communities. Educated direction by community members was an important ingredient in library success. Of course, Hardy was hopeful that board members (mostly men) "should attract the best classes of citizens" (p. 105) and provide continuity in library affairs through open-minded decision making. He admitted that Finances were often inadequate (especially in smaller libraries) and suggested a few remedies for added grants and incentives from governments. For Public Library Buildings Hardy suggested "The essential qualities to be aimed at are simplicity, convenience, facility and economy of administration" (p. 109). He offered Lindsay as an example: its radial stack plan at the rear was open to the public for browsing and it held separate small rooms on each side of the entrance for reading purposes and children. An efficient Librarian was an instrumental part of public library success. "Efficiency here does not mean knowledge of books and skill in library methods alone; it implies a right spirit; a spirit of service, of tact, of open-minded alertness, of zeal and of sympathy" (p. 109). With proper Training of the Librarian at the recently opened summer school for librarians in Toronto in 1911, Hardy felt a good beginning had been made. But there was much work to be done in educating and training librarians in Ontario. Finally, the author concluded with some comments about Public Sentiment and Library Organization. Hardy foresaw that the efforts of the Ontario Library Association to arouse public support and establish better standards would be essential for future success.

Hardy had opened his thesis by developing a history of the public library in Ontario that followed along the lines of his contemporary, James Bain, chief librarian of Toronto Public Library. Together, they outlined a progressive record in Ontario from subscription libraries (aka, membership or association) libraries, Mechanics' Institutes, free libraries, and ultimately public libraries after 1895. Both men emphasized the community aspect of local library growth: a bottoms-up effort assisted by small provincial grants that gave prominence to Ontario's "public library movement" led by nonprofessional civic leaders. This was a Victorian success story in many ways, but one that could also continue to be improved in many ways. Victorians in Britain and Canada believed in cultural accessibility, social order, and a more expansive representative liberal democracy. Books, improved literacy, and reading freely attainable at a public institution such as the library was all well and good as Hardy illustrated in his epigraph to his work from Edward Edwards, the English librarian and author:

"To make good books of the highest order freely and easily accessible throughout the length and breadth of the land were surely to give no mean furtherance to the efforts of the schoolmaster, and of the Christian minister, to produce under God's blessing a tranquil, a cultivated and a religious people."

Hardy, a lifelong Baptist, held strong religious views and was also active in promoting Sunday School libraries. It could be said he possessed what his American contemporaries, such as Melvil Dewey, called the "library spirit" -- the possibility of social change for the better through the educative qualities of the public library. It was a stance that would be the mainstay in public library growth in Ontario until after 1945 when social life and librarianship began to undergo many changes during a new phase of mid-century modernization that emphasized recreational aspects and new concepts related to information access that Victorians, such as Hardy, could scarcely imagine. In retrospect, he provided the most informed Canadian statement concerning the "library spirit" in speaking about its main protagonist, librarian:

An efficient librarian can do more with a thousand books in unfavorable quarters than a poor librarian with ten thousand in a thoroughly satisfactory building. Efficiency here does not mean knowledge of books and skill in library methods alone; it implies a right spirit; a spirit of service, of tact, of open- minded alertness, of zeal and of sympathy. Given a librarian of that spirit, trained in some adequate fashion and the public library becomes not only the handmaid of the schools, but it becomes in a very true sense  'the people's university.' It not only meets the wants which the community now feels, but reveals to it new wants to be supplied. (p.109-10)

In time, by the 1920s, the "library spirit" that characterized work in North America in previous decades would begin to give way in Ontario to "modern methods," a unifying concept that Hardy would eventually turn to in later publications.

Hardy's published 1912 thesis is readily available online at Canadiana Online

Further reading:

John Wiseman, "'Champion Has-Been': Edwin Austin Hardy and the Ontario Library Movement," in Peter F. McNally, ed., Readings in Canadian Library History (Ottawa: Canadian Library Association, 1986), pp. 231-243.

Edwin Austin Hardy, “An Outline Program of the Work of the Ontario Library Association,” Public Libraries; a Monthly Review of Library Matters and Methods 6, no. 7 (July 1901): 414–418.

Edwin Austin Hardy, “A Half Century of Retrospect and Prospect; Annual Presidential Address,” Ontario Library Review 11, no. 2 (Nov. 1926): 41–46. [library work as "this great service of culture and happiness"]

Edwin Austin Hardy, “The Ontario Library Association: Forty Years, 1900-1940,” Ontario Library Review 25, no. 1 (Feb. 1941): 9–13. ["lay membership is of great importance"]