JUNE 2, 1938
UTICA, N.Y., Wednesday—A most interesting letter has come to me describing the work of the Emergency Committee of One Thousand for Youth Aliyah. These young people, who have emigrated to Palestine, are being helped to independence mainly in rural projects. They have a two year training course which covers every department of rural work and the running of a home. Six months before this course ends, they begin to consider what they expect to do in the future and 75 percent of them have thus far remained on the soil.
A movement such as this seems to give real hope for future security to children many of whom have come from areas where life has been extremely precarious.
While I arranged my books up here this spring, it came over me how selfish I am. Not since I was very young have I really wanted a book and not been able to buy it. Yet one of my young neighbors, who helped me to dust and put my books back into place not long ago, remarked there were many books on my shelves which she would like to borrow.
Dutchess County is a rural community and though there are libraries in many of the villages, they are not open at all times. For one reason or another, a great number of people in rural areas and in urban areas also, have not found the habit of reading. It may be due to the fact that books are not always available. In 1935 the American Library Association estimated that 40,000,000 rural and 5,500,000 urban people in the United States were without library service and that another third of the population had very inadequate library service.
It seems to me that the answer to this situation is the county library, but to be successful the county library must have the support of all the people in the county. The tax on individuals need not be great, but, if in any given county, it is more than the county can carry alone, one or more counties could consolidate and a regional library with automobile distribution could serve them all.
I think few people know that a few years ago the United States Congress established the Library Service Division in the Office of Education with a staff of three trained librarians who began its work on January 3,1938. Their work is to assist the state, regional and county libraries by furnishing them with national statistics and by keeping them in touch with what is going on throughout the country. WPA has been able to do a great deal to help people wishing to organize rural libraries. It is to be hoped that more communities will avail themselves of the awakening interest of the Government and the people, in order that one of the vital factors in real education may be made available to all.
We left Hyde Park very early this morning, stopped at Mrs. Theodore Douglas Robinson's at Mohawk for lunch, called on a friend and ended up in Utica, New York, where I am speaking tonight at a meeting of the Women's Division of the Democratic State Committee.