JULY 1, 1949
HYDE PARK, Thursday—Shortly you will hear on the air, during my daughter's program, an interview with Mrs. Arnold Whitridge, who is the chairman of a new committee formed in connection with the New York Public Library. I think this such an important activity that I want to write about our interview in this column as well as having Mrs. Whitridge tell you about it on the air.
Throughout the country, not only in big cities but in many small towns and villages, there are free public libraries; that is to say, very often buildings have been at least partially paid for by some private donor. For instance, Andrew Carnegie gave innumerable libraries throughout the country. Some private subscriptions often are given to help get books and pay for librarians' services. Very often there is a small membership fee paid by families who use the library. But it all adds up usually to a pretty big gift, enjoyed by the people of the town or village.
In some places appropriations are made from the taxpayers' money, but for some unknown reason the appropriations are never nearly adequate. This new women's committee in New York City is going to work with the library and try to acquaint the public with the services it receives through its libraries. Perhaps sometime it will be able to tell the people some of the things they might receive if sufficient money were available.
At the present time, in tax-supported libraries, salaries are usually very low despite the fact that a librarian has to be well educated and usually has to take a special librarian course. She has to attend conventions and meetings, or she loses touch with the world of books. She has to know publishers and editors and critics. In short, she has to spend money to keep herself abreast with the best traditions of her particular calling. We expect her to do all this on a very modest salary and when we hear that new ideas have been started in somebody else's library we usually are annoyed that the same things are not being done in our town and in our library.
Perhaps every library in the country should have a women's committee such as the one which has been formed in New York City. This committee will help raise funds, will start new projects and will help the librarian to keep abreast of whatever may be going on that she should know.
Mrs. Whitridge told me especially about the recorded books for the blind. This seems to me a most interesting project, giving an opportunity to volunteers to work for their library and at the same time to work for the blind. Auditions are held for the people who will read these books aloud for the recordings and those selected volunteer their services and give a number of hours every week.
The children's rooms always seem to me particularly interesting in every library, and there are always new projects to be tried out there. So if your library doesn't have a women's committee, you better get in touch with the New York Public Library to see if they have suggestions that might be useful to you.