A Proposal for Opening and Maintaining a Free, Public Reading Room
The Exeter News-Letter
Friday, September 22, 1893
HAMPTON, September 20. -- A meeting is called for Friday, September 20, at 7:30 p.m., in the library room, town hall, to discuss the best means of opening and maintaining a free, public reading room, and for the purpose of making an organized effort in that direction. This is a matter which directly appeals to the heart and the conscience of every true citizen of Hampton. Boys and young men are growing up in our midst to whom the affairs of the town must soon be entrusted. The manner in which these affairs shall be administered will depend in large measure on the direction and the impetus giving to the moral and the mental growth of the rising generation. Boys are gregarious in their habits. Some trysting-place seems to be a necessary provision for their development. When we consider the influences that are brought to bear on youths and young men at a time when their characters are being moulded to the form which they are to retain through life, does it not seem imperative that a rendezvous shall be provided which shall surround them with as few debasing and as many ennobling influences as possible? Who can tell what possibilities for good there are in a warm, well-lighted room supplied with entertaining and educating papers and magazines? Add to this a department of amusement and social intercourse, where an hour may be spent in pleasant conversation, over some popular pastime, without the atmosphere of evil influences which too often surrounds these amusements, -- provide still another section for the more formal discussion of topics of general interest found in the papers of the reading room, and what have we accomplished? We have supplied a popular demand -- deprived it in great measure of its evil influences -- added to it a civilizing and Christianizing element, and supplemented it with a training school for ready thinkers and public speakers. In short, we have augmented in some degree not only our individual good, but we have added to the peace and prosperity of our town, county, state and nation. Some may say this is an ideal unattainable, so much the better! An ideal that can be fully realized is not worth striving for. If we would grow to be tall men we must fix our ambition on the attainment of something above our reach -- something that will keep us stretching up.
It is well to have some vivifying principle in our midst. Here is an object which appeals to all. It is a political matter certainly, but it is non-partisan. It is a religious matter truly, but it is non-sectarian. It interests all political parties -- Republicans, Democrats, and Prohibitionists. It interests all religious denominations -- Adventists, Methodists, Baptists and Congregationalists. It interests all Hamptonians, whether Christians, Infidels, Turks or Jews. So don't forget the night (Friday, September 29) and don't forget to come. If the library room is too small to hold you, the hall will be opened for your accommodation. By order of Library Committee.