Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Canfield, Dorothy. Hillsboro People (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1915) 346 p.
The good people of Hillsboro Vermont are happy with their quaint old unprofessional library. Every year they stage an entertainment to raise money for new books which are chosen by consent. The town women take turns acting as librarian. When a millionaire from Chicago decides to give them a new and modern library all that changes. An architect is hired to design and build the new Hillsboro Camden Public Library, and Miss Martin, a young librarian from Albany is hired.

She was a very pretty librarian indeed, and she wore her tailor suits with an air which made the village girls look uneasily into their mirrors and made the village boys look after her as she passed. She was moreover as permeated with the missionary fervor instilled into her at the Library School as she was pretty, and she began at once to practice all the latest devices for automatically turning a benighted community into the latest thing in culture. When Mrs. Bradlaugh, wife of the deacon, and president of the Ladies' Aid Society, was confined to the house with a cold, she sent over to the library, as was her wont in such cases, for some entertaining story to while away her tedious convalescence. Miss Martin sent back one of Henry James's novels, and was surprised that Mrs. Bradlaugh made no second attempt to use the library. When the little girls in school asked for the Elsie books, she answered with a glow of pride that the library did not possess one of those silly stories, and offered as substitute, 'Greek Myths for Children.'
Squire Pritchett came, in a great hurry, one morning, and asked for his favorite condensed handbook of geology, in order to identify a stone. He was told that it was entirely out of date and very incomplete, and the library did not own it, and he was referred to the drawer in the card catalogue relating to geology. For a time his stubbed old fingers rambled among the cards, with an ever-rising flood of baffled exasperation. How could he tell by looking at a strange name on a little piece of paper whether the book it represented would tell him about a stone out of his gravel-pit! Finally he appealed to the librarian, who proclaimed on all occasions her eagerness to help inquirers, and she referred him to a handsome great Encyclopedia of Geology in forty-seven volumes. he wandered around hopelessly in this for about an hour, and in the end retreated unenlightened. Miss Martin tried to help him in his search, but, half amused by his rustic ignorance, she asked him finally, with an air of gentle patience, 'how, if he didn't know any of the scientific names, he expected to be able to look up a subject in an alphabetically arranged book?' Squire Pritchett never entered the library again. (p. 197-99).

Another story concerns Jeroboam Mordecai Atterworthy, who left his village to attend Middletown College, and stayed there as the College Librarian the rest of his life.

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