Abbildungen der Seite



specially entitled to notice may be ranked in the following order:

Göttingen *University Library.

Breslau * University Library

250,000 Oxford Bodleian Library

220,000 Tübingen University Library

200,000 Munich University Library


1 Heidelberg University Library

200,000 Cambridge Public Library

166,724 to her Bologna University Library.

150,000 Prague *University Library.

130,000 Vienna University Library

115,000 Leipsic University Library


. Copenhagen. University Library

110,000 Turin. *University Library

110,000 Louvain University.

105,000 Dublin Trinity College Library 104,239 l'psal. *University Library

100,000 Erlangen University Library

100,000 Edinburgh University Library

90,854 Glasgow University Library


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

The foundation of the University Library of Turin dates from 1436 ; that of Cambridge, from 1484; that of Leipsic, from 1544; that of Edinburgh, from 1582; and the Bodleian, from 1597. The small library of the University of Salamanca is said to have been founded in 1215.

The Göttingen, Prague, Turin, and Upsal, are lending libraries. . Those of Göttingen, Prague, Turin, Oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin, are legally entitled to copies of all works published within the States to which they respectively belong.

The number of volumes accruing to the Bodleian from the operation of the Copyright Act, since 1825, computing them from the number supplied to the British Museum, would be about 38,000.

The annual expenditure of the Tübingen Library is about £760; of the Göttingen Library, £730; of the Breslau, about £400. That of the Bodleian, at Oxford, is now about £4,000of which sum £1,375 is defrayed by proceeds of various benefactions, about £650 by matriculation fees, and about £1,500 by library dues.

In reference to the degree of accessibility to all the foreign libraries that have passed in review, it may be generally affirmed that admission is granted unrestrictedly—to the poor as well as to the rich to the foreigner as well as to the native. The libraries of France,' says M. Guizot, are accessible in every way; for the purpose of reading, and also for borrowing books. Any workman, whatever his social condition, who can obtain a certificate from his employer as to his respectability and honesty, may have books lent to him.' We have also the assurance of his Excellency, M. Van de Weyer, that the fourteen libraries of Belgium are all accessible to the public; any person, without any letter of authorization, may go into them and be supplied with a book, if he asks for it.' The same privilege is shown to exist in the libraries even of jealous and priest-ridden Italy. M. Libri states that, in almost every town of Italy, there are public libraries freely accessible to the public-a concession limited only by the necessity of applying for permission to read forbidden books, over which the Church and the government keep a strict watch. For instance, the Florentine History of Macchiavelli' is prohibited, and there are many others to which the same restriction extends. Generally speaking, the books are not lent out to individuals to read at home; but the libraries attached to all the universities of Italy lend books to professors; whilst the privilege of reading, instead of being monopolized by the students, is shared by the public at large. The access in Italy is more unrestricted than that enjoyed at the British Museum. Respecting the libraries of Germany, C. Meyer, Esq., German secretary to his Royal Highness Prince Albert, says: • They are, with few exceptions, freely accessible; they are, moreover, lending libraries, which is one most important difference between the English and the German libraries. Every citizen has free access to the town library, and every member of the University has free admission to the University library; and each of these two classes of readers can mutually introduce the other to the respective libraries they are privileged to attend. Thus the system in the German towns is somewhat analogous to that adopted at the British Museum, with this important distinction, however, that the latter is not a lending library, whereas the introduction to a German library confers the right of taking away books.'

Now it appears that we have only one library in Great Britain that affords the same measure of advantages and facilities with the glorious array of foreign collections at which we have glanced; and that is the library founded by Humphrey Chetham, in Manchester. There are ten or eleven libraries to which admission may be secured by the production of some sort of recommendation ; and there are about twenty in addition that are accessible as a matter of grace and favour.

In our metropolis there are a few old and scanty libraries, but which, however resuscitated and improved, would never be commensurate with the mighty wants of our extending population. The more ancient part of London is the spot best supplied. The vast population which is being almost daily added to our modern



JULY, 1850.

ART. I.--Report from the Select Committee on Public Libraries ;

together with the Proceedings of the Committee, Minutes of

Evidence, and Appendix. 1849. During the last few months, startling statements, disclosing the dearth of public libraries in the United Kingdom, have appeared in most of our public journals. They do not, however, comprise a tithe of the curious and valuable information embedded in the bulky blue-book from which they were excerpted. This document is a rich mine of suggestive facts and data, which we should be glad to see assorted, and smelted into a compact and available form, for the use of the advocates of education and the apostles of popular enlightenment. It exhibits the most singular national anomalies, and develops phenomena at once humiliating and cheering. Its revelations are alternately streaked with lights and shadows, in strange and fitful contrast. Whilst-judging from the scantiness of the provision made for our intellectual illumination and nurture—we are shown to be the most benighted of all civilized peoples, we are, perhaps, notwithstanding these serious disadvantages and drawbacks, eclipsing every other nation in the wide diffusion of knowledge, the inventiveness of genius, the mastership of mind, and the opulence and upward



tendency of our literature. Our object, in the present article, is to classify and condense, as far as possible, some of the information scattered through the work referred to ;-information that has been gleaned from the most varied sources—from clergymen, librarians, literati, Members of Parliament, town clerks, exministers of Continental governments, popular lecturers, selfeducated working-men, and city missionaries. Yet, in spite of the great diversity existing in the character, position, and experience of these witnesses, there is found to be, on collating their evidence, a remarkable oneness of sentiment on the two more prominent topics of inquiry — namely, the disgraceful destitution of public depositories of books, freely accessible to the public; and the growing capacity of the humbler classes of society to appreciate and improve the privileges conferred by such institutions.

Not many years ago, the attention of Parliament and the public was directed to the formation of free galleries, museums of art, and schools of design, as a means of popular enlightenment and an incitement to intellectual pursuits. Many persons at the time displayed considerable opposition to this proposal, and libellously contended that, however successfully such institutions might be established among foreign nations, they would not be appreciated, and might be abused, by our own. The experiment, however, was made. The British Museum, the magnificent gallery at Hampton Court, the National Gallery, with various other metropolitan and provincial institutions, were thrown open gratuitously to the public. The boding vaticinations of the false prophets were utterly falsified. The decorum of the people speedily struck their jealous slanderers dumb. And it is now universally admitted that no abuse has attended the concession, whilst it is impossible to calculate the large measure of rational enjoyment and healthy mental stimulus that has resulted. Another, and a yet more beneficent improvement, still remains to be effected. The extensive establishment of public libraries throughout the entire country, and particularly in the large centres of population, is one of the greatest desiderata of the age. Such libraries have long existed on the Continent, and have enjoyed the fosterage of the governments of the various States. It can scarcely be doubted that the influences emanating from such stores of accumulated lore have been fraught with incalculable advantages to the literature and general character of the people among whom they have been amassed. And, by parity of reasoning, it may be inferred that the literature of England, and the mental stature and stamina of its sons, denied the benefits of such institutions, must have

« ZurückWeiter »