Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/114

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
106
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Since the day of rest of the various religious sects is not the same, all days are regarded as of equal importance, but, to meet the objections of the Protestant clergy that the exercises here kept people away from the church services, it has been decided not to open the building on Sundays until noon. But as the hours of employment of many persons are so long that their evenings are not free, the reading room is open on this day after the hour named, and certain instructive lectures are given during the afternoon. At these the average attendance is about five hundred. A strong effort was made to have the building closed during the whole of Sunday, however. The argument was made that as long as beer gardens and places of amusement were open on this day, the people should not be restricted on the only holiday of the week to those places where money is spent for trifling pleasures. The large number of persons who spend Sunday afternoon in the reading room proves that the opportunity to make good use of their time is fully appreciated.

Before giving in detail the plan of work in hand, it should be said that the director has secured the assistance of about one hundred and fifty men and women who are willing to contribute their time to the furthering of the purposes as outlined. They are divided into fourteen groups, or committees, each looking after a single interest. The means as at present constituted for attaining the ends in view may be classified as follows:

1. Reading room for men and women not under eighteen years of age; open daily.
2. Wednesday evening lectures on literature, history, physics, pedagogy, political economy, and travel. These lectures are open for debate.
3. Courses of lectures on different topics for men and women separately, or for both together. These discussions are marked by an intimate tone.
4. Sunday evening meetings: musical or theatrical performances, magic-lantern pictures, tableaux, etc. These are given in the large hall, which accommodates five hundred and twenty-five persons.
5. Legal advice.
6. Clubs for boys, girls, men, and women. Friendly intercourse. Discussions on scientific subjects. Chess club. Travel club.
7. Lessons in Dutch, French, English, and German, bookkeeping, reading and writing for adults, needlework, mending, making and cutting of one's own clothes, cooking, drilling for boys and girls, fencing, acting, chorus singing.

The reading room is provided with a large number of daily and weekly papers, magazines, and technical journals, together with such books as could be purchased or obtained as donations. The user of