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REPORT OF THE DIRECTOR
FOR THE YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1899.
July 1, 1899. Hon. JOHN BIGELOW,
President, New York Public Library. SIR:
I have the honor to submit the following report of the work of this Library for the fiscal year ending June 30th, 1899:
On March 19th, 1899, the Board of Estimate and Apportionment of the City of New York authorized the issue of bonds to the amount of $500,000, to be used by the Park Board in removing the Forty-second Street Reservoir and in laying the foundations for the new building for the New York Public Library. This action was approved by the Board of Aldermen on April 5th, and by the Council on May 9th; and the Ordinance was approved by the Mayor on May roth. The plans and specifications for this part of the work having been approved, and proposals for bids for the work having been duly advertised according to law, the contract for removing the reservoir and for constructing the foundations of the new building, was awarded by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment to Eugene Lentilhon, and the work of removal began on June 6th. It will probably require about fourteen months to complete this work.
The delay in beginning building operations has been well utilized by the architects in perfecting the plans, and the convenience and artistic appearance of the building have been greatly improved.
During the fiscal year the number of volumes received by the shelf department, entered in the accession catalogues and placed on the shelves, was 34,182, of which 16,994 were purchases and 17,188 were gifts. The number of pamphlets received and accessioned during the same period was 16,986; of which 5,138 were purchases, and 11,848 were gifts.
The number of volumes actually received during the year is much larger. The Ford gift, which will be noticed further on, is estimated at about 100,000 volumes and pamphlets, of which nearly 8,000 have been catalogued and accessioned.
Volumes and pamphlets actually received during the fiscal year:
The total number of volumes on the shelves and available for use at the end of June, 1899, was 459,248, and of pamphlets, about 117,000.
Steady progress has been made in the re-classification of the Library, the subjects of French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese literature, general science, gardening and forestry, fisheries, learned societies in part, Spanish and Portuguese and French history, and the anatomical and physiological periodicals, having been arranged and the books and pamphlets marked with the new relative location marks, and the corresponding marks noted in all catalogues.
The number of works re-classified and marked in this manner during the year was 24,722 volumes and 1,880 pamphlets, of which about 7,500 volumes are in French history, over 1,200 volumes in Spanish and Portuguese history, 3,452 in learned societies and 6,500 in French literature.
At the Lenox Building the R. L. Stuart Collection and the Drexel Music Collection were re-classified and the volumes marked.
About 600 volumes of Theology, which were received with the American Bible Society's library, were shelved with the other theological books at the Lenox Building.
The new classification has been so far worked out in the different departments of the Library, that the scheme has been printed in a provisional form for official use. So far as carried out it has been found to work well in supplying the wants of readers.
In order to make room for the new accessions, 2,724 feet of shelving were put in the north basement of the Lenox Building, and in February the collections relating to Law and Jurisprudence, and medical periodicals and societies, comprising 14,529 volumes, were transferred thereto from the Astor Building, reserving only a few works in these departments for the open reference shelves. The corresponding title cards were also transferred to the Lenox Building. The total amount of additional shelving set up in the two buildings during the year comprises 7,436 linear feet.
During the year 5,278 volumes have been bound for the Library, and 1,549 volumes have been put in stiff “manilla rope" paper covers. In the Library bindery 1,407 volumes have been repaired, a number of maps have been mounted and 280 volumes of public documents taken apart,
During the year there were catalogued 54,769 volumes and 32,095 pamphlets, for which purpose there were written 255,191 cards and 21,944 slips for the printer, from each of which slips five printed cards were obtained. At the end of June, 1899, the new index catalogue in the reading room at the Astor Building contained 418,615 cards, and those in the two reading rooms at the Lenox Building, 123,450 cards. The number of cards added to each catalogue during the year was 178,615 for the Astor, and 72,300 for the Lenox. The latter number includes about 38,850 cards of the R. L. Stuart collection, which were made the year before, but were held back for the books to be re-classified and re-marked.
The catalogue of music contained about 35,050 cards on June 30, 1899. A considerable portion of the Drexel collection still remains to be catalogued, but the work is advancing steadily. The combined music collections now aggregate 9,000 volumes and 1,700 pamphlets.
At the Lenox Building the section of English history has been catalogued, and the greater part of general history and American literature, but a considerable portion of the other Lenox collections are still uncatalogued. The above figures for the Lenox include the catalogues of American genealogy and music, but not the separate catalogues of Fifteenth Century books, of the early Americana, of the manuscripts and prints, and of the maps, all of which, except the first named, are still in progress.
The catalogue of Fifteenth Century books has been revised, and a separate check-list, arranged by towns and presses, has been made. About 500 volumes of early Americana, comprising publications from 1575 to 1621, have been catalogued.
In the manuscript department 2,524 slips for the printer were written, and over 5,000 printed cards were filed in the catalogue of manuscripts. These relate mainly to the Emmet collection. For the catalogue of maps about 6,000 cards have been written, comprising nearly all of the roller maps, dissected maps, and miscellaneous sheet maps in the Library. The Hydrographic charts have also been catalogued, and an analytical cata. logue is being made of the ancient atlases.
The calendaring of the Emmet collection has been continued throughout the year, and 267 pages of this calendar index have been printed in the Bulletin, the last appearing in the number for April, 1899. About 100 additional pages have been printed as separates.
The volumes thus far indexed include the papers relating to the Albany Congress, 1754; the Stamp Act Congress, 1765, and the Congress of 1774, each in one volume; to the members of the Continental Congress, five volumes; to the Presidents of Congress, and of the United States; Signers of the Declaration of Independence; 19 volumes of Sanderson's Lives of
the Signers; one volume of the Articles of Confederation; 12 volumes of Lossing's Field Book of the Revolution; papers relating to the siege of Savannah and to the siege of Charleston, and eight volumes relating to the generals of the Revolution, being 52 volumes in all.
There remain about 36 volumes to be indexed, which will make about 200 printed pages, in addition to those which are already in type.
The work of indexing certain current periodicals, referred to in my last report, has been continued, and during the year there have been added from this source to the subject card catalogue in the Astor Building 714 titles from the co-operative index list and 16,396 titles from the special library list of current periodicals. This addition to the catalogue has been found very useful by readers. At this date a little over one-half of the library is catalogued by authors and subjects, and classified; about two hundred thousand books and pamphlets are catalogued by authors, but not by subjects; and about 50,000 are uncatalogued. The main work of the coming year, in addition to providing for the current wants of readers, must therefore be in the catalogue department.
READERS' DEPARTMENT. During the year the number of readers who visited the two buildings was 111,038, the Astor having received 84,977, and the Lenox, 26,061. This is an increase of a little more than 7,000 readers over the preceding year of 1897–8, the increase being 3,334 at the Astor and 3,759 at the Lenox. The daily average of readers was 358, or 247 at the Astor and 84 at the Lenox; the largest number in any one month was in March, and the smallest number in July. The total number of volumes and periodicals issued to readers in both buildings during the twelve months, not including the use made of the open reference shelves, was 425,838. Of the 357,906 volumes called for at the Astor, the largest number, 66,324, or 18 per cent., belonged to English and American literature; 63,754, or 18 per cent., were in applied science; 67,123, or 16 per cent., related to economics and social questions; and 31,131, or 9 per cent., pertained to the literature of continental Europe. The total number of volumes given out to readers at the Lenox was 67,932, of which 12,396, or 18 per cent., related to American history and genealogy.
The necessity of filling up the alcoves at the Astor Building with book stacks has reduced still further the alcove privileges of readers, and the renewal of such privilege is now practically discontinued. It is believed, however, that the increased facilities afforded by the well selected open reference shelves, by the laying out of the most important current periodicals, and by the improved service of the Library staff, will be sufficient to meet all reasonable requirements during the period which must elapse before the new building can be occupied.
In November, 1898, a second reading room was opened at the Lenox Building, in the north hall on the main floor, for readers in American genealogy and music, and seats were provided for fifty readers. Nearly 8,000 volumes and pamphlets relating to American genealogy, American State and local history, and heraldry, have been shelved in this room, including about 1,000 volumes on the open reference shelves. For this department 21,900 cards have been filed in a separate catalogue, and during the eight months in which the room has been open about 8,800 readers have been served with 32,000 volumes.
The open reference shelves in both libraries have been freely used by a large number of readers. Nearly 4,500 volumes are on the open shelves at the Astor Building, of which only four volumes have been reported as missing. At the Lenox Building only two volumes have been reported missing out of about 5,000 volumes on the open reference shelves in the two reading rooms. In addition to these losses about twenty-five volumes have been mutilated during the year by cutting out a leaf or plate.
The art galleries and exhibition rooms at the Lenox Building had 33,569 visitors during the year.
The total number of readers in the periodical department during the fiscal year was 16,000; there being a daily average of over fifty. In addition to the journals contained on the open reference shelves, 147,518 numbers of periodicals were called for, being a daily average of over 500.
The total number of periodicals received at the Library at this date is 3,709, of which 674 are gifts. The average of separate numbers of periodicals received daily is 185; the total number for the year being 63,720. This includes 40 daily papers, 504 weeklies, 134 semi-monthlies, 974 monthlies, 149 bi-monthlies, 438 quarterlies, 67 semi-annuals, 566 annuals, and 837 of irregular dates of publication. The amount of clerical labor required to keep these files of periodicals complete and properly arranged, so as to be readily accessible, is considerable, but the results are very satisfactory and are highly appreciated by the readers. About 1,400 volumes of old periodicals were added to the Library during the year, completing some important files.
ORIENTAL DEPARTMENTS. Of the Schiff Fund for the purchase of Semitic Literature, $1,559.01 was expended during the year in the purchase and binding of about 800 volumes, most of which were added to the Jewish collection, having been obtained at the Joachimsthals sale in Amsterdam. Among these are about 100 collections of rabbinical decisions in matters of civil and ecclesiastical law, which decisions are of much value to students of Jewish history, and of which the Library now has a fine collection. There was also obtained from that sale a collection of pamphlets relating to the Sabbathian heresy,