Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 383
Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 383
the plan depends for its success. 1 The same want has kept the boys’ club from reaching the development that would apply the real test to it as a barrier against the slum. There are fifteen clubs for every Winifred Buck that is in sight. From the City History Club, the Charity Organization Society, from everywhere, comes the same complaint. The hardest thing in the world to give is still one’s self. But it is all the time getting to be easier. There are daily more women and men who, thinking of the boy, can say, and do, with my friend of the college settlement, when an opportunity to enter a larger field was offered her, “No, I am content to stay here, to be ready for Johnnie when he wants me.”
  Justice for the boy, and for his father. An itinerant
Note 1. The managers of the New York Public Library have found a way, and have maintained twenty-seven home libraries during the past year (1901): little cases of from fifteen to forty books entrusted to the care of some family in the tenement. Miss Adeline E. Brown, who is in charge of the work, reports a growing enthusiasm for it. The librarian calls weekly. “We come very near to the needs of these families,” she writes, “the visit meaning more to them than the books. In nearly every case we allow the books to be given out at any time by the child who glories in the honor of being librarian. In one wretched tenement, on the far East Side, we are told that the case of books is taken down into the yard on Sunday afternoon, and neighbors and lodgers have the use of them.” It is satisfactory to know that the biggest of the home libraries is within stone’s throw of Corlear’s Hook, which the “Hook Gang” terrorized with rapine and murder within my recollection.

Miss Brown adds that “the girls prefer bookcases with doors of glass, as they like to scrub it with sapolio, but the boys are more interested in the lock and key.” [ back ]



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