New SAT Reading Practice Test 50: "The Opening of the Library"

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"The Opening of the Library"

This passage is adapted from "The Opening of the Library" by W.E.B. DuBois, professor of Economics and History at Atlanta University, published in the Atlanta Independent on April 3, 1902.

"With simple and appropriate exercises the
beautiful new Carnegie Library was thrown open
to the public yesterday." So says the morning paper
of Atlanta, Georgia….
05The white marble building, the gift of Andrew
Carnegie, is indeed fair to look upon. The site
was given the city by a private library association,
and the City Council appropriates $5,000 annually
of the city moneys for its support. If you will climb
10the hill where the building sits, you may look down
upon the rambling city. Northward and southward
are 53,905 white people, eastward and westward are
35,912 African Americans.
And so in behalf of these 36,000 people my
15companions and I called upon the trustees of the
Library on this opening day, for we had heard that
black folk were to have no part in this "free public
library," and we thought it well to go ask why. It
was not pleasant going in, for people stared and
20wondered what business we had there; but the
trustees, after some waiting, received us courte-
ously and gave us seats—some eight of us in all. To
me, unfortunately, had fallen the lot to begin the
talking. I said, briefly:
25"Gentlemen, we are a committee come to ask
that you do justice to the black people of Atlanta
by giving them the same free library privileges that
you propose giving the whites. Every argument
which can be adduced to show the need of libraries
30for whites applies with redoubled force to the
blacks. More than any other part of our population,
they need instruction, inspiration and proper
diversion; they need to be lured from the tempta-
tions of the streets and saved from evil influences,
35and they need a growing acquaintance with what
the best of the world's souls have thought and done
and said. It seems hardly necessary in the 20th
century to argue before men like you on the neces-
sity and propriety of placing the best means of
40human uplifting into the hands of the poorest and
lowest and blackest….
I then pointed out the illegality of using public
money collected from all for the exclusive ben-
efit of a part of the population, or of distributing
45public utilities in accordance with the amount of
taxes paid by any class or individual, and finally I
concluded by saying:
"The spirit of this great gift to the city was not
the spirit of caste or exclusion, but rather the
50catholic spirit which recognizes no artificial differ-
ences of rank or birth or race, but seeks to give all
men equal opportunity to make the most of them-
selves. It is our sincere hope that this city will prove
itself broad enough and just enough to administer
55this trust in the true spirit in which it was given."
Then I sat down. There was a little pause, and the
chairman, leaning forward, said: "I should like to
ask you a question: Do you not think that allow-
ing whites and blacks to use this library would be
60fatal to its usefulness?"
There come at times words linked together
which seem to chord in strange recurring reso-
nance with words of other ages and one hears
the voice of many centuries and wonders which
65century is speaking….
I said simply, "I will express no opinion on that
Then from among us darker ones another arose.
He was an excellent and adroit speaker. He thanked
70the trustees for the privilege of being there, and
reminded them that but a short time ago even this
privilege would have been impossible. He said we
did not ask to use this library, we did not ask equal
privileges, we only wanted some privileges some-
75where. And he assured the trustees that he had
perfect faith in their justice.
The president of the Trustee Board then arose,
gray-haired and courteous. He congratulated the
last speaker and expressed pleasure at our call. He
80then gave us to understand four things:
1. African Americans would not be permitted to
use the Carnegie Library in Atlanta.
2. That some library facilities would be provided
for them in the future.
853. That to this end the City Council would be
asked to appropriate a sum proportionate to the
amount of taxes paid by blacks in the city.
4. That an effort would be made, and had been
made, to induce Northern philanthropists to aid
90such a library, and he concluded by assuring us
that in this way we might eventually have a bet-
ter library than the whites.
Then he bade us adieu politely and we walked
home wondering.

1. Which choice best explains why DuBois wrote this passage?

  • A. To encourage philanthropists such as Andrew Carnegie to fund new libraries
  • B. To present the trustees' explanation of why African Americans could not use the library
  • C. To contrast his position on public access to libraries with that of the trustees
  • D. To state his support for construction of a new library for just African Americans

2. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

  • A. Lines 14-18 ("And so … ask why")
  • B. Lines 42-46 ("I then … or individual")
  • C. Lines 69-72 ("He thanked … impossible")
  • D. Lines 88-92 ("That an effort … than the whites")

3. As used in line 23, "lot" most nearly means

  • A. a predictable result.
  • B. a random decision.
  • C. an unaccepted consequence.
  • D. an agreed upon responsibility.

4. It can be reasonably inferred from the passage that

  • A. the trustees would consider the construction of segregated public library facilities.
  • B. the trustees disagreed with DuBois's arguments in favor of expanding access to public libraries.
  • C. the trustees were open to the idea of integrating Atlanta's public library system.
  • D. the trustees proposed concrete plans to provide public library facilities for African Americans.

5. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

  • A. Lines 56-60 ("There was a little … to its usefulness")
  • B. Lines 77-79 ("The president … at our call")
  • C. Lines 81-82 ("African Americans … in Atlanta")
  • D. Lines 83-84 ("That some … in the future")

6. As used in line 35, "growing acquaintance" most nearly means

  • A. a friendly relationship.
  • B. an increasing comprehension.
  • C. an active involvement.
  • D. a brief initiation.

7. Which claim does DuBois make to the trustees?

  • A. Allowing all of Atlanta's residents to use the new library would render it useless.
  • B. African Americans will benefit less from access to public libraries than white residents.
  • C. Poor African Americans have greater need for a public library than other residents.
  • D. Atlanta should invest in public libraries and schools for all of its residents.

8. DuBois uses the example of a "catholic spirit" (line 50) to support the argument that

  • A. the city's neighborhoods continue to be segregated by race and economic class.
  • B. Atlanta has an obligation to provide equal opportunity for all its residents to better themselves.
  • C. access to public libraries should be based on the amount of taxes one pays.
  • D. Northern philanthropists should provide private money to help pay for a public library.

9. The author's reflections expressed in lines 61-65 most likely indicate that he

  • A. wishes he lived in a different century.
  • B. is frustrated that people's attitudes have not changed over time.
  • C. is thinking about a time when another person said the exact same words to him.
  • D. is planning a detailed response to the chairman's question.

10. The four-point list in the passage can be described as

  • A. a summary of the author's supporting points.
  • B. an acknowledgement of a counterargument.
  • C. an introduction to a counterargument.
  • D. a response to the author's main argument.