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A Library Primer by John Cotton Dana

A Library Primer

John Cotton Dana

Third Edition

Library Bureau, Chicago 1903

Copyright, 1899, by Library Bureau

To Samuel S. Green, William I. Fletcher, and Charles A. Cutter


A library primer was published in the first six numbers of Public Libraries in 1896. It was quite largely made up of extracts from an article by Dr W.F. Poole on The organization and management of public libraries, which formed part of the report on Public libraries in the U.S., published by the U.S. Bureau of education in 1876; from W.I. Fletcher's Public libraries in America; from Mary W. Plummer's Hints to small libraries; and from papers in the Library journal and A.L.A. proceedings.

At the request of a number of people interested I have revised, rewritten, and extended the original draft for publication in book form. Additional material has been taken from many sources. I have tried to give credit in good measure. The prevailing tendency among librarians is to share ideas, to give to one another the benefit of all their suggestions and experiences. The result is a large fund of library knowledge which is common property. From this fund most of this book is taken.

The Library Primer is what its name implies. It does not try to be exhaustive in any part of the field. It tries to open up the subject of library management for the small library, and to show how large it is and how much librarians have yet to learn and to do.

The City library, J.C.D. Springfield, Mass.



I, The beginnings--Library law 9

II, Preliminary work 10

III, What does a public library do for a community? 12

IV, General policy of the library 15

V, Trustees 17

VI, The librarian 20

VII, The trained librarian 23

VIII, Rooms, building, fixtures, furniture 25

IX, Things needed in beginning work 30

X, The Library Bureau 35

XI, Selecting books 39

XII, Reference books for a small library 46

XIII, Reference work 53

XIV, Reading room 57

XV, List of periodicals 61

XVI, Buying books 63

XVII, Ink and handwriting 69

XVIII, Care of books 73

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