Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Old-time attitudes - or not?

I've been doing proofreading for Project Gutenberg (and so can you!), and while working on the Papers and proceedings of the twenty-eighth general meeting of the American Library Association, 1906, I came across this gem:

Good novels are worth reading. Advertise
them. They bring people to the library. It
is better that the novel reader should get a
good book from the library than that they
should get poor ones some other place. They
get the novel for entertainment, and presently
they may want something else in the book
line, and they will know where to get it.
But they are entitled to the novel as mere
entertainment or amusement if they want it.
It may be the link which binds them to the
library and gives that institution the opportunity
it might not otherwise have to interest
them in some other department of reading.
Imagine the culture where someone would have to write this. On the other hand, it's probably an attitude still in existence today. Apparently Americans still generally either don't read, or only read "improving" books like prayer guides, diet books and other self-help books. It's nice to know that even back in 1906, we had serious people sticking up for us frivilous folks.

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