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The Library World Volume 2 Issue 4

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Article publication date: 1 October 1899


IN accordance with our promise, we have collected a few notes concerning the new boroughs to be formed next year out of the existing London parishes, which will perhaps be found useful by those who have written to us for information. The Commissioners under the Act will, we are informed, commence their local enquiries in October, and the particulars given in the accompanying table and map will enable provincial librarians to follow the course of the inquest with comparative ease. The map shows in a rough manner the position of the library movement in London at the present moment, the shaded portion representing boroughs or parts of boroughs which have provided libraries, the unshaded areas representing boroughs or old parishes which have not yet adopted the Acts. We do not propose to consider the working of the London Government Act, save as regards its effect upon public libraries. At present 39 parishes or districts (including Penge, South Hornsey, and St. Paul's, Covent Garden) have adopted the Acts, and of these thirty‐four have established libraries and appointed librarians. As the new Act establishes twenty‐eight boroughs (excluding Penge and the City), and some of these contain several of the old areas which already have libraries, it follows that the Library Authorities will have to be considerably reduced. Our tables show this at a glance. Instead of thirty‐nine Library Authorities, there will only be twenty required ; consequently some great changes may be expected. It appears from the Act (Sections 16 [d] and 29 [4] ) that the settlement of the provisions affecting libraries and the transference of officers will form part of the scheme to be prepared by the Commissioners. Thus it is possible that a scheme may determine whether or not the libraries are to be extended over the whole of a borough only partially provided, and how many responsible officers are to be appointed in each department. It does not follow that the Commissioners will appoint any officer, but it appears that they must fix the number of officers, leaving the Borough Councils to make appointments and settle compensation. Numerous guesses have been made as to what will happen to the libraries. Some are of opinion that the existing arrangements will not be disturbed, and that the libraries will be carried on by their present staff, directed by a district sub‐committee, responsible to the Library Committee of the Council. Others think that all officers will be treated alike, and that one responsible head will be appointed for each department, as in all municipal boroughs, the others to be compensated as provided by the Act. Should this latter plan be adopted, the number of public librarians in London will be reduced from thirty‐four to twenty, and thus at least fourteen librarians will have to face the somewhat serious position of loss of office. The compensation will, to some extent, no doubt, remedy the evil, but even a liberal provision of this kind will scarcely be a salve for the absolute loss of a congenial occupation. Of course, it has to be remembered that most of the Vestry Clerks, for certain, and, in all likelihood, many of the Medical Officers and Surveyors in affected boroughs, will be similarly dealt with, so that a vast amount of disturbance among London municipal officers will be one of the immediate consequences of the Act. It is not for us to forecast the decisions of the Commissioners : these will be for future consideration. But it is quite evident that they have a very difficult task before them. We shall report from time to time the progress of the enquiries, as very great interest is being manifested in the impending changes by librarians in London and all over the country.


(1899), "The Library World Volume 2 Issue 4", New Library World, Vol. 2 No. 4, pp. 84-112.




Copyright © 1899, MCB UP Limited