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HE way in which the free library has come to be recognized as a necessary

part of the equipment of every progressive community in the United States can be easily traced. Its direct pedigree goes back to the seventeenth century parsonage, which housed the local library. The minister, if he were well-to-do, bought the books as he wanted them for his own use.

If he was poor — and the association of position and condition was not as inevitable then as it afterward became — a few of the parishioners sometimes bought a library as part of the inducement offered to some promising young college graduate whom they wished to settle over themselves. When the parish was one that required missionary help, The New England Company or Dr. Bray's Associates or The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts could be induced to send over from London a box full of books. In one way or another the local clergyman almost always possessed a library, and the inscriptions on the flyleaves of those volumes that have come down to the present day show that they were frequently borrowed, and occasionally were not returned.

From an early date nearly every flourishing settlement contained a stock

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