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MonkeyNotes-The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
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THE FIRST SUBSCRIPTION LIBRARY

Franklin proposes to the Junto Club members that they bring all their personal books to the club so that everyone can use them as references while writing or preparing a debate. The members agree and bring their personal collections for a period of time; when it becomes hard to properly maintain them, the books are again taken home. This, however, is the basis for Franklin's subscription libraries. With the help of Brockden, the scrivener, Franklin puts together fifty subscribers; they each pay a membership fee of forty shillings and ten shillings annually for a period of fifty years. With the money, space is obtained and books are purchased. The subscribers often come together to do research, to read, or to discuss current issues. The subscription libraries make many contributions to society and generally help to improve knowledge and conversation.

Franklin stops his narration of Part I, which he intends to be exclusively a personal account. His intention is to begin a more public narration in the book. He is interrupted, however by the Revolutionary War, which consumes most of his time and effort. He returns to his writing almost ten years later.

Notes

Franklin's determination is highlighted in this section. He tries to create a "lending" library at the Junto Club, where all members pool their personal books for the good of everyone. The idea works well at first; then the owners become concerned over the maintenance of the books. In the end, the Junto members return their private book collections to their own homes. But Franklin is unwilling to give up the library idea. With the help of the scrivener, he successfully organizes a more public venture, known as the subscription library, where fifty or so subscribers pay to belong and share with one another. The libraries are another success story for Franklin; they improve the public standards of behavior and conversation and help in widening the general knowledge of people. The organization of the libraries also thrust Franklin further into public life, where he reveals to others his remarkable organizational and leadership abilities.

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