THE man who has the most thankless task to perform in College is the director of the Reading-Room. It is with feelings of pity that we have noticed his crestfallen look after he has asked half a dozen men to subscribe and has received not a single name. He is one from whom much is required and to whom little is given. If the gas in the room is cut off, if each subscriber's pet paper is not furnished him, or if there is anything else which is not just as it should be, the director is called to account; but if he asks the wherewithal to furnish the requisites of a good room, he is met with all sorts of excuses.
One man does not use the rooms at all and does not think it his duty to pay for them; another does not use them very much, don't think he gets two dollars worth from them (pity the director can't make a discount for his benefit); another paid last year and year before that, and thinks that the others can support it this year. Any one of these excuses is considered sufficient for not subscribing, and the result of course is that it is with great difficulty that the association is each year kept from dissolution, scarcely enough money being raised to pay current expenses, even though these are made as small as possible.
If we were to judge from some of the shallow excuses which are given for not supporting the institution, we might suppose that the students did not care how soon it was given up as impracticable, but in reality the feeling among us is far different. We should all be sorry to see the enterprise, started only three years ago at the unanimous request of the students, fall to the ground; and it is only through listlessness, or a feeling that some one will be sure to support it, that so many of us are backward. This being the case, has not the Reading-Room a claim on all, even upon those who do not use it, inasmuch as it is one of the students institutions, the advantages of whose success we should all share and whose failure we should all alike regret?
The other excuses it would be hard to defend; No one really supposes that the support given last year can be of any assistance this year, nor does any one expect that others will pay their share and his too; but still such reasons do very well when good ones are wanting.
Those of us who use the rooms continually, as many do, should certainly assist in supporting them; yet, evident as this is, it often happens that these very men are the least willing to subscribe. Such men should be reminded in the most emphatic terms that they are as much out of place there as they would be in the rooms of any other association or society in College to which they do not belong.