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The Free Library a Blessing

Unsigned editorial from the pages of THE RECORD, Wilkes-Barre, PA / Tuesday, January 29, 1889.

The opening of the Osterhout Library marks an epoch in the history of our city. When first the gift of the generous donor was announced, we could estimate its value in dollars and cents. Today one may walk through the cozy rooms, view the long lines of heavily laden shelves, and realize that our benevolent townsman was wise indeed in
Leaving us heirs to amplest heritages
Of all the best thoughts of the world’s great sages.*
But it is not until one has entered into his inheritance that he can truly estimate its value, and we can as yet but feebly realize what a precious gift this may be. Those learnèd in the world of books can indeed glance along the shelves and enjoy in anticipation the rich feast. Their appreciation is only a feeble sentiment compared with that which will be felt by those now young, when in after years they can look back upon the many pleasurable and profitable hours spent in the quiet work, gathering treasures from the richness of its store. The community at large can form hardly a conception as yet of the value of such an institution in our midst, a perennial fountain, of which all may partake. The poorest youth in our city may from it imbibe all the elements of an education such as has given to the world some of its foremost names. Not only will he find stored here all the knowledge essential to such an education, but he will find in the friendship of book-lovers the companionship and assistance of his fellows. With such facilities for self -help laid before our youth, Wilkes-Barre may yet point to our free library as the source of inspiration for some whose names are of world-wide fame.
As a convenience to the professional man, as a source of instruction for the student, and as a means of entertainment in the family circle, the library has a field of usefulness beyond all estimate.  Coupled with the unstinted benevolence of the founder is the happy coincidence that the management of the trust and the details of its fulfillment have fallen into the best of hands, and the gift is made as nearly perfect as human agencies could devise. The inauguration of the institution is an auspicious one, and we trust it may always be in as good hands as now.

*Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Sonnet on Mrs. Kemble’s Reading from Shakespeare


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