A Librarian's Lamentation (Green Lake Branch, The Seattle Public Library, June 30, 1928)

  • By Ruth A. Dennis, with Paula Becker
  • Posted 3/11/2009
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 8943

This is a quarterly branch report written by Green Lake Branch librarian Ruth A. Dennis.  In the report, Dennis explains that circulation at her branch is down, particularly juvenile books, and attributes this affliction to the recent opening of the Greenwood-Phinney Branch.  Dennis begins her report with a quote from the biblical book Lamentations, a collection of songs lamenting the fall of the city of Jerusalem.

Her Lamentation 

Report for the quarter ending June 30, 1928.

To the Superintendent of Branches:

"The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts; all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness. 

Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper, ... her children are gone into captivity before the enemy" (Lamentations).

Yea, verily, the ways of Greenwood-Phinney do afflict us!  But unlike Zion, Green Lake has not sinned; so is punished unjustly. Our enemy has caused, during the past two moons, a loss of 1280 in our junior circulation and sore are our hearts against them.

By mighty effort we have tried to keep our children with us; Vacation Reading Club has attracted many.  390 have registered and over 100 maps started but even this could not offset the rush to the strange country.

Seeing the youth of our country following after strange lures, one of our maidens gave her attention to the reader of earnest purpose. Tho some have fallen by the wayside, a zealous few gaineth knowledge. New ones have been inspired to tread the path of adult education.  Even tho active, this small number addeth but little to our numbers.

So apathetic have our subjects become that they returneth not their books.  Journeys were made by caravan without the bounds of our property. Some of the sinners repented and produced the books; others had moved to strange lands. Two weary mornings were thus spent and the results were comforting tho not complete.

Our home has been beautified; its portals made anew with varnish; bulletins bright with cortecene and magazine shelves freed of encumbrances. In spite of these improvements, in spite of our welcoming faces, they cometh not!

'The joy of our heart is ceased; our dance is turned into mourning.'  More Lamentations.

                               Sorrowfully submitted,

                               Ruth A. Dennis

                               Branch Librarian"

(Note: cortecene was apparently some kind of colored paper or other decorative material or possibly a type of paint.)

Ruth Dennis, Librarian

Dennis's quarterly reports for her branch often displayed wry humor.  A summer 1928 report noted, "The weekly visit of the swimming instructor to the beach at Green Lake caused most of the youngsters to be among those absent one afternoon a week, but later in the afternoon or during the evening they came with clean faces and still cleaner hands.  So the swimming instruction had an indirect benefit after all!" ("Report for July and August ...").

During Dennis's tenure, library staff drove to the homes of patrons with long-overdue books, attempting to reclaim the volumes.  "We are sorry that every overdue case could not be cleared up but then, that would be altogether too utopian," she explained ("Report for July and August ...").

Ruth Dennis first reported on the Green Lake Branch for the quarter ending March 31, 1925.  She resigned her position on September 1, 1928, to enter the University of Washington.  Dennis closed the July-August 1928 report, "As my last report as Librarian of this Branch, may I add that this one is regretfully submitted?"


Sources:

"Green Lake Branch Report for the quarter ending June 30, 1928," and "Green Lake Branch Library Report for September 10, 1928 to January 1, 1929," and "Green Lake Branch Report for July and August 1928," and "Green Lake Branch Report for the Quarter ending March 31, 1925," Green Lake Library Annual Reports, 1923-1944, Seattle Public Library Archives, Box 10 (Green Lake Branch), Seattle Room, Central Library, Seattle, Washington.


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