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The Library Of The State Prison

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Persons who during the last summer contributed books for the Library of our State Prison, may bo gratified to read the acknowledgment of their gifts in the Annual Eeport for the year ending September 30th, 1873, and the accorapanying notioes of the Library. Books and Periodicals will be gratefully received at the Prison and at the Insane Asylum, - pictorial magazines and papers are particularly usefnl at Kalaniazoo. Newspapers are useful at the Poor House, religious and secular. Mr. C. A. Lewis, noxt tho Savings Bank, will take charge of any reading matter for tho latter. GAgent Morris saya : - " Our Prison Library now number more than nineteen hundred volumes, and over twelvo hundred of thom have been addcd to it within the past year by purchase and donation. Our thanks are due to a number of persons who havo made handsome and valuable contributions to our Library. Most prominent ainong them is Mrs. A. L. D'Arcambal of Kalamazoo, whose labors evince much thoughtful kindness. We are also indebted to some lady or ladies at Ann Arbcr, whose names do not appear with the contributions sent, and we commend their example to the generous and humano. We cannot forbear mentioning the name of F. H. Burgess, formerly on the Patriot of this city, for the gift of several years' complete volumes of Harper's Magazine. He has over showu an enlightened sense of the valuo of moral and intellectual agencies in developing the highest usefulness and efficiency of a place like this. To the publishers of a uumber of monthly periodicals and prominent weekly newspapers for their valuable publications are we also indebted. These books and these papers are not only eagerly sought after, but tho men are very careful in tho use of them. Their interest in reading matter is very strong, and continually growing. Our worst wish to these generous friends from the outside, is that they might only understand and appreciate how much these gifts have done to alleviate the tediousness of prison life by lendiug to its weary hours, in some sort, tho charins of society. Charles Dickens, in one of his Christmas works, asserts eloquently that, however low they may have fallen, they still grasp in their hands some tufts and shreds of that unfenced precipice from whieh they feil from good, and that not to pity thom is to do wrong to heaven and to man, to time and to eternity, and it is surely so, however deceptive appearances may be, that they all rotain iu their memory some fragmentary yearnings for a better past -the bright days of their innocente and youth. Chaplain Hickox bears testimony as follows : The prison library bas been materially improved tho past year. The purchase of three hundred and forty fivo volumes was a very valuable addition : and every book in that purchase seems well adapted to the various preferences of the men for whose use they were selected. And there have been bound for prison uso one hundred and five volumes of various periodicals. These, together with some bound copie3 of other works, were sent to us from Ann Arbor, from Monroe, and from other localities in the State ; and the gifts are not tho less prized because the donors, in a number of instances, are still unknown. Mr. F. H. Burgess, formerly of this city, mado the prison a very valuable present of scientific and literary periodicals. And the collection of books pregented by Mrs. D'Arcambal of Kalamazoo, was a timely and a practical benefaction, for which the prison have often expressed the most sincere gratitude. The whole number of complete volumes, lare and small, now in the library, is not far from nineteen hundred. But ït is still evident, - it is plainly seen, - the prison library needs an additional purchase of good books, espeeially those of hiatory, biography, soience, books of travels, and those of the higher and better productions of rotnanoe. Tho limits of this roport do not give room to show the adaptation of the reading specified, to the condition and the neoessities of men in prisons. It may not be generally understood that the settled austerity of all surroundings in prison Ufe, the limited mental exetcises, and the fixed monotony of the daily duties, and of the daily privileges of the convict ; and further, the paralyzing gloom whieh settles down and covers a long sentence, and the wiry, chafing question as to what can be done on the expiration of any commitment ; it may not be known these things prescribe unnatural limits to thought, and they depressingly rebuko formercheerful and encouraging anticipations. ïhose books are needed, then, to keep the men alive, - to preserve or furnish a breadth of mind and a habit of thought, to which may be entrusted the aids and the hopes of the convict's approaching day of freedom.- The tendency of convict life is to restram the ingenuousness of the heart, and to impair the native movement of thought, and of reason. This hurtful fatality should be prevented, if it can be ; and it is suggested it may be partially averted by the gift of well selected reading, as well as by the intelligent and friendly discharge of official duties. And it is urged that a constant use of the best books must be einployed, if we would not seo the prisoner sacriliced to the gloom and the pettiiiess of the lifo to which his crimes have betrayed him. But there is no need to urge you, gentlemen, not to withhold the means which shall prepare these unfortunate men to present the strongest reaistance against the demoralizing inclination of criminal life. Convicta, you know, are npt so numerously nor as thoroughly reformed by what they suffer while in prison, as by those things they may learn while there ; and by the good things to which they can be habituated bef ore their release ; and it must be evident to you, that in the matter of prisou reform, the reading referred to, is second only to the reading and the preaching of the word of God.


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