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|Monday, December 16, 1901 - Page 2, column 2, middle to bottom
In our City Library we have a department for German books, which is only right and fair considering the number of Germans, who make up a significant portion of Buffalo's population. However if we were to say that this department set a high standard for itself, we would be lying.
It is not disputed that there are a significant number of German books in the catalog, for indeed the selection is not bad; but what good is a catalog and what good are the books when no one has arranged them properly in the first place thus no one can get to the books he wants. For quite some span of time it's been said when someone couldn't get a book, the numbers in the catalog have been changed, but we have an index by which we can decipher the numbers. However this index never seems to work right and one can be assured that only once in every ten cases will one get the desired book.
A large number of the newer materials can't even be found in the catalog, which was never laid out and written down properly from the beginning. Not even the supplementary catalogs put out by the library administration solve the problems. It may be high time that a new German catalog be printed.
The greatest grievance with the administration of the German department however is the so-called "Open Shelf" Department for German books; that is, the ranges of shelving from which the public may make their book selections. Since the library was opened, the same old dusty volumes have stood there. From the beginning only a few, very narrow rows of shelving have been provided for the purpose, the selection of subject matter has been scanty, and for quite some time one has found
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books on science, descriptions on travel, etc. crammed into about as much space as is dedicated to French Literature. The original plan for the shelving of German books was for it to be free of subject classification and since that time it has remained so. Why the space can't be filled with new books, which are not catalogued, is a great mystery.
As mentioned above, the number of German residents in this City is quite significant, so significant in fact that they may wish to demand that their needs be taken into account; currently they are not, therefore German residents are justified in applying their energies to seeing that some adjustments are made.
We also wish to mention a situation which has existed for a long time and which we have attempted in vain to bring to the library's attention; namely this, that German attendance of the library is not what it should be and books from the "Open Shelves" do not circulate as well as might be expected of a people who are renown throughout the world for their book-learning. While books taken out by the Americans, the English and even the Irish seem to be in proper order and manage to be reshelved again properly within their subject classification and place on the shelf, it's too much work to do the same for the German books — despite the fact that the Germans are well known for their love of order. Instead of seeing to it that the books are properly reshelved so that one can access them, they are heedlessly scattered about to the extent that while in the morning the German books are in proper order, within a relatively short time they look like cabbages and turnips [the German phrase for an orderless heap].
There is fault on both sides, with the library administration and the German reading public. A little good will on both sides can set matters right. The library administration should remember its responsibility to the German residents of this city and the library-using German public should be mindful of its responsibility to the administration and to the public in general. An arrangement of books wildly strewn about does not create a very joyful or favorable impression.