PROPERLY administrated, the reading room—displaying newspapers, magazines, and ready‐reference books—may, in spite of all that has been said to the contrary, become an important contributory factor in the educational work of our libraries. Let us examine the position closely. It is admitted, even by intemperate opponents, that the reading room is one of our most frequented departments. How, then, may the librarian make it of real educational value to the frequenters? This is a significant question, and, in the limited space available, we propose to indicate a few directions in which much might be done to enhance the utility of this department, and, within certain limits, to systematize its work on the lines of the policy governing the circulating departments. First of all, there is the important question of planning the room; and, although the size and arrangement must, to a large extent, depend upon the local requirements, a few general observations, applicable under almost all circumstances, may here be made. The room should be so designed as to facilitate supervision—glass partitions being more desirable than solid walls. Wherever practicable, the exit should be within view of the staff. For passages between tables, ample space should be allowed—six to eight feet being a reasonable width where movable chairs are used. The accompanying plan obviates the necessity for further comment, and will, perhaps, convey a clearer idea of what is required.
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