By Ainsworth Rand Spofford
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Additional info for A Book for All Readers: An Aid to the Collection; Use; And Preservation of Books and the Formation of Public and Private Libraries
1. A selection of the best works of reference should be the corner-stone of every library collection. In choosing these, regard must be had to secure the latest as well as the best. Never buy the first edition of Soule's Synonymes because it is cheap, but insist upon the revised and enlarged edition of 1892. Never acquire an antiquated Lempriere's or Anthon's Classical Dictionary, because some venerable library director, who used it in his boyhood, suggests it, when you can get Professor H. T. Peck's "Dictionary of Classical Antiquities," published in 1897.
In every time of panic, political or financial, the prices of books, as well as of all articles of luxury, are the first to fall. Many of the choicest collections came to the hammer; multitudes were eager to sell—but there were few buyers except the book merchants, who were all ready to sell again. 40 per volume. This extraordinary good fortune enabled the Astor Library to be opened on a very small endowment, more splendidly equipped for a library of reference than any new institution could be today with four or five times the money.
An incalculable improvement in the public taste, educated by the diffusion of the best models, until even the poor farmer of the backwoods will no longer tolerate the cheap and nasty horrors that once disfigured his walls. The lesson in art is good in literature also. Give the common people good models, and there is no danger but they will appreciate and understand them. Never stoop to pander to a depraved taste, no matter what specious pleas you may hear for tolerating the low in order to lead to the high, or for making your library contribute to the survival of the unfittest.