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Each subscriber, on his admission, pays twelve shillings of entry-money, and ten shillings and sixpence yearly. The management of the Institution is vested in nine Curators, a Treasurer, Secretary, and Librarian. Three of the senior Curators are disqualified, and others elected in their place by the subscribers, yearly. The Library is kept in a room in Miller's Charity, and is open every lawful day from eleven till one in the afternoon, and from seven till nine o'clock in the evening, Saturdays excepted, on which day it is open from eleven till one in the afternoon.
On the 26th September 1816, there were 3550 volumes in the Library, and 524 subscribers connected with it. The Curators, for some years past, have been enabled to lay out about two hundred pounds yearly, in the purchase of new books.
As novels and periodical works of merit, form a part of this Library, the demand for them and other new books is so very great, that the Curators have found it necessary, in order that the first applicant may be first served, to receive tickets from the subscribers, which on the one side bears his name and address, and on the other the name of the book wanted, with the date on which it was applied for. When this ticket is sent to the Library, the Librarian marks on it the number of the application, which often amounts to 12, and sometimes to 20, in one day; and when it is the applicant's turn to receive the book, the ticket is thrown into the Post-Office. If the person to whom it is addressed, does not apply in a limited time, a similar ticket is sent to the next in order, and so on.
The following gentlemen were the first Curators:
Messrs. George Meliss, Robert F. Alexander, Robert M'Donald, John Pattison, jun. John Wingate, jun. William Peddie, James Buchan, George A. Muirhead, and Gilbert Lang. They were elected on 2d January 1805.
Office-Bearers in 1816.
Doctor Chrystal, Secretary.
Francis Orr, Treasurer and Librarian.
1. David Grant, elected in January 1805.
2. George Lumsden,
3. Robert Grant,
4. Charles Cameron,
The late Rev. James Robertson, Minister of the Associate Congregation in Kilmarnock, having been possessed, at his death, of an extensive and valuable Library, consisting chiefly of books in theology, a number of Clergymen and Laymen connected with the Associate Synod, conceiving that opportunities seldom occurred of falling in with such a rare and valuable collection of books, resolved, in 1814, to purchase the whole, for the purpose of establishing a public Library in Glasgow, which they agreed should be regulated according to the following laws and regulations, viz.
1st, The Institution to be denominated the Robertsonian Theological Library.
2d, It shall consist principally of theological books of all descriptions, and in all languages; of such as relate to the state of religion; and of such as treat on subjects nearly connected with divinity and morality. But useful and eminent
works of all kinds, particularly those in science, history, and belles lettres, shall form a part of this collection. No books but such as are quite unprofitable, or of immoral tendency, shall be absolutely excluded.
3d, The Library is, and shall remain, the property of persons in connection with the General Associate Synod: but the full use, and in part the management of it, shall be extended to persons of all religious denominations.
4th, The stock of the Library shall consist of 200 shares of 51. each, which stock shall be afterwards increased as circumstances may require. The number of stock-holders shall never fall below fifty. To keep up this number, proprietors must be assumed at whatever price shares will bring.
5th, Each proprietor shall have one share of stock for every 51. subscribed by him.
6th, The shares of stock shall be absolute property; and as such shall, notwithstanding the restriction in rule 3d, descend to heirs: but shares shall not be sold, except to those qualified, as in the beginning of rule 3d.
7th, Each proprietor shall pay annually five shillings for each share occupied in reading by himself or substitute; but shall make this payment for the share or shares only which shall be re-occupied.
8th, Persons of all religious denominations are admissible to the use of the books, on subscribing each ten shillings and sixpence per annum.
The Library, which has lately received considerable additions in almost every branch of science, is kept open in NileStreet, every lawful day, from two till four; except on Saturdays, when it is open in the evenings, from six till eight o'clock. In 1816, it contained 1204 volumes in nine different languages, and 2402 in English, making in whole, 3606 volumes: at the same period, there are 165 subscribers connected with the Library, viz. 96 holding shares, and 69 ordinary subscribers.
The following gentlemen are in the direction in 1816, viz. Rev. Dr. Mitchell, Rev. Robert Muter, Messrs. William Irvine, Moncrieff Mitchell, Andrew Mitchell, James Speirs, Andrew Brocket, John Knox, John Bruce, William Leitch, Lachlant Muckart.
Office-Bearers in 1816.
Rev. William Ferrier, (Paisley,) President.
1 John M'Gavin, elected 1814. 1 Francis Orr, elected 1814.
Of late, a number of Book Societies have been established in this City and neighbourhood. These Institutions are conducted on a plan similar to Circulating Libraries, with this difference, that the books belong to the readers themselves, who chiefly consist of the working classes of the community.
On 9th August 1815, a Society was established in this City, entitled, “The Glasgow Periodical Publication Friendly Society," consisting of persons carrying on a business, which, till about the year 1796, was scarcely known in Scotland. The business of printing and publishing books in numbers has lately obtained to a great extent, and in no town has it been so far extended as in Glasgow. From an authenticated report, which was lately made out for the information of certain members of Parliament, when an attempt was expected to be made to subject the sellers and deliverers of books, technically termed Canvassers and Deliverers, to the Hawkers' or Pedlars' tax, it appeared, that in Scotland there were 414 men of this
description employed, and that the sums annually collected by them in sixpences and shillings, for books published in numbers, amounted to 44,160., on an average of several years, and that five-sixteenths of the whole belonged to Glasgow, where there are ten separate Concerns, and two general Agents from respectable houses in Liverpool and Bungay; the Glasgow houses, in their turn, sending out Canvassers and Deliverers to Aberdeen, Perth, Dundee, and almost every other town of consideration in Scotland. Two-thirds of the books, sold by these Publishers, are on religious subjects, and the residue contain useful and interesting information. No inflammatory or immoral book is either printed or published by the members of the Society. This scheme is of great use in improving the morals of the lower orders of the people, as a man in this rank can easily pay a pound in twenty or forty instalments, when he could not accomplish it in one sum; moreover, what is purchased in this way is commonly read, the quantity delivered at one time is but small, and is, in general, carefully perused before the next number comes to hand.
Thus, books are procured as they can be conveniently purchased, and purchased as they can be conveniently read. It has been calculated, that since the commencement of bookpublishing in numbers, 200,000 large family Bibles have been sold in Glasgow, and several millions of other books, which, in all probability, but for this scheme, would not have been vended.
The Literary Society in the College, was instituted about the middle of the last century. Dr. Leechman was one of its first promoters. Doctors Adam Smith, Trail, and Reid, and Mr. John Millar, Professor of Law, were amongst its distinguished members.
For a considerable time after its formation, the Society was confined to the Professors in the College, and a few other