Tips on Building a Household Library (1838)

In order to obtain a good library, which every family ought to have, the following directions may be observed with advantage:

  • Select a room, or at least a corner of some room, where the Bible and other books, together with inkstand and paper, shall be kept. Every house ought to have a room for retirement, prayer and study.
  • Obtain a good, convenient book case, and writing table or desk, or both. Let the dust be brushed off, daily used, and kept constantly neat and clean.
  • Whenever a book has been taken into another room for use, let it always be returned to the library for safe keeping.
  • Avoid subscribing for books, unless you feel that the book cannot be published without a subscription, and you do it either as an act of benevolence to the author, or for the purpose of doing good to the world.
  • Lay out your money carefully. Buy no books but good ones. Select the best. Seek to make, from month to month, some increase to the library. Teach your children, servants and friends, to use the books with care.
  • Admit no novels.
  • Select, in addition to religious works, books of reference, school books, scientific works, and philosophical, etc. – a few of the best productions of the best poets.
  • In all departments, get works of established and solid reputation.

By pursuing this course a few years, every farmer and mechanic can have a library which will be of great value to his children, when he is gone, as well as to himself while living.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.


Collection: African American Newspapers
Publication: The Colored American
Date: July 7, 1838
Title: Household Libraries
Location: New York, New York

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