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STATEMENT OF MRS. SAMUEL B. BROWN, WASHINGTON
SECTION, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF JEWISH WOMEN Mrs. Brown. The Washington section, National Council of Jewish Women, wish to testify in favor of S. 1527, the District of Columbia charter bill. Our local membership totals almost 1,000 women. Nationally we have approximately 20,000 members, with sections in all parts of the country.
The National Council of Jewish Women has supported home rule for the District of Columbia for many years. Our national office feels that this problem affects not only the citizens of the District, but also citizens everywhere in the country. They have so stated in testimony before the congressional committee considering home rule
We feel that S. 1527 handles the issue of home rule for the District very satisfactorily and merits the support of people everywhere. We urge this committee to act favorably on this legislation, so that it will have the opportunity of being voted on in this session of Congress.
Mr. HARRIS. That will, then, conclude all the appearances of witnesses scheduled, with the exception of Mr. Peterson of the Public Library.
The committee will stand adjourned until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning. May I express the hope that we can conclude these hearings? However, we want to give everyone an opportunity to be heard, and want whatever information and views they may have on this subject.
The committee will stand adjourned until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning.
(Thereupon the committee adjourned, to meet on Friday, July 15, 1949, at 10 a. m.)
HOME RULE AND REORGANIZATION IN THE DISTRICT
FRIDAY, JULY 15, 1949
JUDICIARY SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE
Washington, D. C. The Judiciary Subcommittee of the Committee on the District of Columbia met in the committee room, 445 Old House Office Building, at 10 a. m., Hon. Oren Harris (subcommittee chairman) presiding.
Other subcommittee_members present were: Hon. Thomas G. Abernethy, Hon. Olin E. Teague, Hon. James C. Auchincloss, Hon. John J. Allen, Jr., of California. Hon. John L. McMillan, chairman of the full committee, was also present.
Also present were: Harry N. Peterson, Board of Trustees, Public Library; Lloyd N. Cutler, Washington Home Rule Committee; T. S. Settle, National Capital Park and Planning Commission; C. F. Preller, Washington Central Labor Union; Paul Matthews, Junior Chamber of Commerce; Jock Dolton, Amalgamated Casualty Insurance Co.; Morton Liftin, District of Columbia Industrial Union Council, CIO; Vincent J. Browne, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Elmer E. Batzell, McArthur Boulevard Citizens Association; Maynard B. DeWitt, American Veterans Committee; and others.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order. We will first hear from Mr. Harry N. Peterson, of the Public Library. STATEMENT OF HARRY N. PETERSON, CHIEF LIBRARIAN, PUBLIC
LIBRARY, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA Mr. PETERSON. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I am Harry N. Peterson, Chief Librarian, Public Library of the District of Columbia.
I should like to express my appreciation to the committee for this opportunity to appear on this occasion.
Mr. Albert W. Atwood, President of the Board of Library Trustees, had hoped to be here, but business called him out of town and he designated Mr. Hartson, of the firm of Hogan & Hartson, to be his substitute. However, when it was discovered only one person could appear for the Library, Mr. Hartson thought it would be well for me to make the presentation. I should like at this time, with the approval of the chairman, to put in the record the statement prepared by Mr. Atwood and by me, calling particular attention to exhibits A and B of my statement which support the text.
The CHAIRMAN. Without objection they may be inserted in the record at this point.
(The statements above referred to are as follows:)
STATEMENT CONCERNING S. 1527 BY ALBERT W. ATWOOD, PRESIDENT, BOARD
OF LIBRARY TRUSTEES, THE PUBLIC LIBRARY OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, WASHINGTON, D. C.
I should like to express my appreciation for the opportunity to give my views regarding S. 1527 (H. R. 4981), a bill to provide for home rule and reorganization in the District of Columbia.
The Library Trustees were surprised to find that this latest reorganization bill abolishes the independent Board of Library Trustees, provides that the Chief Librarian (redesignated Director) will hold his position at the pleasure of the District Manager, and transfers the Public Library personal under civil service. These recommendations were unexpected, particularly in the light of facts brought out at hearings on earlier reorganization bills.
I should like to take this opportunity to summarize as briefly as possible the history of the case and present for your consideration certain facts which the Trustees feel should be brought to your attention.
The possibility of changes in the present operation of the Public Library of the District of Columbia was first called to my attention by Mr. Auchincloss in a. letter dated June 17, 1947. In addition to inviting me to appear before his committee at a hearing scheduled in July 1947, Mr. Auchincloss requested a statement regarding the advisability of retaining the Library Board, and, if so, under what circumstances. Because it was necessary for me to be out of town at the time of the hearing, Mr. B. N. McKelway, editor of the Star and a member of the Board, appeared in my stead.
Evidently the recommendations (supported by quotations from various authorities in government and library administration) that the Public Library.continue to operate under a Board of Trustees met with a favorable reception on the part pf the committee members and Dr. Galloway, who served as its legislative adviser. in any case, when the District reorganization bill (H. R. 4902 appeared, provisions had indeed been made for the Public Library to operate under a Board. Unfortunately that bill called for an elected bipartite Board of Public Education, which was charged with the dual responsibility of supervising the activities of both the public school system and the Public Library. Knowing such an arrangement had not been successful in other cities (the worst instance being that of Kansas City, Mo.) the Trustees asked for an opportunity to present further testimony. Statements were submitted by me, the present Librarian, Mr. Peterson, the two former Librarians, and others.
At the hearing held by the Joint Committee of the Senate and House on February 9, 1948, presided over by Hon. James A. Auchincloss, the following people joined me in urging that the independent Board of Library Trustees be retained:
Mrs. Philip Sidney Smith, Vice president of the Board; Dr. George F. Bowerman, former Librarian; Miss Agnes Winn of the AAUW; and Mr. Paul Howard, representative of the American Library Association. Again the arguments offered seemed to impress the committee members. When I had completed my testimony Mr. Auchincloss thanked me, then added, “You have made the face of the committee quite red. We will consider your views.” This last observation was quoted in the newspaper reports of the session on February 9, 1948. But although the statements seemingly met with favor, they had no lasting effect, for in the next revision of the bill (H. R. 6227, April 14, 1948) the Board of Library Trustees was abolished, the Public Library was established as a department of the District Government the independent personnel merit system was eliminated, and all Library positions were transferred under civil service. This bill was presented to the House but was not acted upon at the last session.
The latest proposals for the reorganization of the District government (H. R. 28, S. 1365, and S. 1527) give proof that it is possible to win all the battles and yet lose a war.
It is my conviction, in which my associates on the Board concur, that, in any revision of the District government, provision should be made for a Board of Library Trustees. Furthermore, we are convinced that it is to the best interests of the city that the Board of Library Trustees be given the same authority it has now. The effectiveness of the Public Library and the future development of its services, both as a supplement to the formal educational program of the public schools and in the field of adult education, will be assured only if the Board con
tinues to establish policies and review administrative practices. We seriously question the advisability of leaving everything to an administrator directly responsible to the head of the District government.
In his book Municipal Administration, Prof. William B. Munro says:
“The public library department should be headed by a board with its members appointed by the mayor, or, in city-manager cities, by the city council. It has been suggested that in the larger cities unpaid library boards should be abolished and their functions transferred to a full-time, well-paid commissioner or director of libraries, but this idea has not gained much favor, nor does it deserve to do so. For among all branches of municipal administration the library department is the one that most appropriately lends itself to the board system of management. Its problems are of the sort that can best be handled by common counsel, by deliberation, and by the reconciliation of honest but divergent views. Few decisions in library administration have to be made in a hurry. A board of influential citizens can perform great service by interpreting the library to the community and the community to the library.
Experience has proven that it is a sound principle in government for a nonprofessional or lay board to supervise the actions of a professional expert, in this case the Chief Librarian. Our Librarian suggests policies and proposes plans for the development of the services; the Trustees, serving as interested representatives of the public, consider the merits of the proposals and approve, modify, or disapprove, as they believe advisable in the interest of obtaining the best possible library service for the entire city. At the same time, the presence of the Board assures the academic freedom so necessary to the professional personnel in the successful administration of any educational institution. This is a basic consideration. Furthermore, the existence of the Board of Trustees insures continuity and uniformity in policies and practices. In this way, long-term programs can be developed; on the other hand, without such a control, service to the public might become disjointed and ineffectual. The Board, composed of local citizens, represents citizen participation in the operations of an important educational agency. By their enthusiastic and unselfish activity in library affairs the Trustees assure complete and progressive library service to all of the reading public. It should also be noted that the Library Board is interested in all aspects of library operations, including personnel and finances, as well as services to the public. The Library Board protects the personnel from any possibility of political manipulation. It checks on expenditures to make sure that the best possible use is made of public funds. As Prof. Carleton B. Joeckel of the School of Librarianship, University of California, has said in his The Government of the American Public Library (1935): "It is evident again and again that the fortunate development of the library cannot be attributed solely to the librarian and the staff, but that it is equally due to the distinguished service of an outstanding trustee or to a board of generally high quality. It is not too much to suggest that there is a high correlation between good libraries and good boards. Intimately associated with the history of many libraries are the names of certain trustees who have played leading roles in their development. As examples may be cited White in Cleveland, Duffield in Detroit, Church in Pittsburgh, Ledyard in New York, Carpenter in St. Louis, Noyes in Washington
and scores of others whose service may be little known outside their own communities but is nonetheless distinguished.”
Library boards in general are part of an American tradition. Public libraries throughout the United States are administered by boards. As a matter of fact, this type of organization is by far the most prevalent: many more libraries in cities of 30,000 population or more are controlled by boards of trustees than are not. According to a study made by Dr. Joeckel in 1935, of the 310 cities he reviewed only 13 municipal libraries were without boards of any kind. Although these statistics were compiled in 1935 they still have application since things have not changed appreciably since that time.
The importance of the contribution to be made by trustees has long been recognized by the American Library Association. The trustees section is an integral part of that professional organization.
It is recommended that the Board of Library Trustees be appointed by the head of the District government. To quote again from Professor Joeckel's The Government of the American Public Library:
"The great majority of library boards are appointed either by the chief executive of the dity or by the council, commission, or other governing body, or by the council on recommendation of the mayor. One or the other of these methods is found in 156 of the 203 cities with libraries managed by boards in the 30,000