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The Library World Volume 10 Issue 10

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Article publication date: 1 April 1908



THE fact that an English librarian was asked to describe the work of British municipal libraries, to audiences in Antwerp and Brussels, may be taken as a certain indication that a change is impending in the library world of Belgium. At the invitation of M. Frans Gittens, city librarian, Antwerp, acting on behalf of the Foundation for the Permanent Endowment of the Communal Library and Plantin‐Moretus Museum, and M. Paul Otlet, secretary‐general of the International Institute of Bibliography, Brussels, I had the honour and pleasure of lecturing on English library work and conditions to representative audiences greatly interested in the subject. This, it is understood, is the first time an English librarian has been invited to lecture on such a subject on any part of the Continent, and I certainly felt it a great honour and privilege to be thus selected for such a congenial task. The language difficulty was luckily no great bar, as most of my audiences, both Flemish and French, understood English quite well. In addition, the International Institute of Bibliography had printed a translation of the lecture, as No. 92 of its publications, and this was issued as a twenty‐two page pamphlet entitled Les Bibliothèques municipales en Angleterre, and distributed at Brussels. At Antwerp the programme also contained translations of the titles and remarks about the lantern slides, so that everything was made easy for one who has always deplored his inability to acquire the art of speaking foreign languages. As a further instance of the care and thoughtfulness exercised to provide for my comfort, I should acknowledge the kindness of M. Eugeen Everaerts, town librarian of Ostend, who, on representations from his colleague at Antwerp, met the steamer and passed me and my “projections” through the Custom House without trouble. There is no doubt that our Belgian friends have the knack of making strangers feel thoroughly at home. I am not likely to forget the kindness and hospitality of M. W. von Mallinckrodt, chairman of the Permanent Endowment Commission at Antwerp, who, with his charming wife, invited me to a lunch at which some of the chief residents were present, including Sir Cecil Hertslet, H.B.M. Consul‐General; Mr. Diedrich, the American Consul‐General; M. Henri Hymans, chief librarian of the Royal Library at Brussels; M. Max Rooses, of the Plantin Museum; M. Frans Gittens, with some members of his staff; and other gentlemen connected with the city and municipality of Antwerp. The same kindly hospitality was extended by M. Gittens, of Antwerp, and M. Otlet, at Brussels, and everything was done by all with whom I came in contact to make me feel at ease and nothing of a stranger. In fact it is impossible for anyone who has read Scott, Brontë and Conscience to feel like a stranger in Belgium. The lecture at Antwerp was given in the large and finely decorated hall of the Cercle Royal Artistique, Littéraire et Scientifique d'Anvers, a kind of general Arts Club combining the functions of places like the London Institution with those of an ordinary social club. The hall was capable of seating 1,000 persons, and was rather beyond my poor powers as an elocutionist. About 600 people attended, of whom a large number understood English, and my lecture, luckily for my audience, largely pictorial, was very well received. There was no preliminary introduction of any kind, and my “turn” came on after a concert had been about half heard. The following programme will give an idea of the kind of mixed entertainment which brought out 600 people on a snowy winter's afternoon:—


(1908), "The Library World Volume 10 Issue 10", New Library World, Vol. 10 No. 10, pp. 360-400.




Copyright © 1908, MCB UP Limited

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