The Conference of the Library Association, which took place at T Bristol, on September 25th to 2Sth, 1900, will be remembered chiefly as a highly successful and enjoyable series of social events, for which the local arrangements were admirable. The atmosphere of the old city itself, with its memories of Cabot, Chatterton, the Slave Trade, and John Silver, to name only the more romantic, threw a glamour over the whole meeting, and the consequence was that, even the small rump of practicality which had been added to the proceedings for the look of the thing, was absorbed in the interest of the surroundings. Who was going to waste time, had there been any to waste, discussing the value of abstract lectures on—say bees, to public librarians, when, outside in the fresh, open air, dainty bands of Red Maids challenged attention, and the magnificent gorge of Clifton fascinated every lover of books and nature ? It was putting too great a strain upon the enthusiasm of members to expect them to forsake the beauties of a fine city for a bare and flavourless hash of papers which would do little credit to the smallest local branch of the Association. We do not in any way reflect upon the literary ability of most of the papers presented, which was uniformly high, nor upon their antiquarian interest, which, again, was great ; but we must deny the utility of most of the papers which were read, as incentives to discussion, or as in any way forwarding the main cause for which the Library Association was formed. Fourteen papers were put down for discussion, and of these only five had any direct connection with library work. Three others had a certain bearing upon the work of libraries established under the Public Libraries' Acts, while the remaining six were papers of local or literary interest. We do not complain so much about the composition of the programme, as against the cutting down of the time allotted to the discussions. If the whole business of the meeting had been to discuss the papers of Messrs. Aldred (“ book Selection and Rejection ”); Hulme (“ Principles of Dictionary Subject Cataloguing”); and Doubleday and Quinn (“Dictionary versus Classified Catalogues”), and nothing else, the time of the Conference would not have been frittered away as it was, but the Cataloguing papers were never even reached, while the one on “ Book Selection ” only survived to the discussion stage, because its author had the foresight to have it printed in advance. Next year the Council will, perhaps, organise afternoon sessions on questions pertaining to library work, for those who have no particular interest in the manufacture of soap, linoleum, or tobacco.
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