IT is surprising that in these days of universal research the subject of library Fittings should have remained to all intents and purposes a virgin one. It is neither an unimportant nor an uninteresting subject; to the librarian it is one naturally of peculiar interest. Yet, if we except slight and largely incidental treatment of ancient and monastic libraries and accounts of present day fittings—and the latter mostly of the trade catalogue order—there has been almost nothing written on the subject. It is therefore a matter of congratulation that so capable a writer and scholar as Mr. John Willis Clark should have seen proper to devote much time and learning to the investigation of this subject. In his handsomely produced and profusely illustrated volume entitled “The Care of Books,” in which the evolution of library fittings is traced from the classic period to the end of the eighteenth century, Mr. Clark has made one of the most valuable contributions to library economy that has been issued for many a day, and has earned the gratitude of all librarians. Mr. Clark has already treated the subject in his valuable essay on “The Library” in “The Architectural History of the University and Colleges of Cambridge,” and in his Rede and Sandars lectures on the monastic and Greek and Roman libraries respectively, and these with much fresh material he has embodied in this monograph of over 350 quarto pages. Mr. Clark's descriptions of the mechanical appliances used in the libraries of olden time, such as, for example, the methods of chaining books and the details of the chains and their fastenings, are wonderfully clear, supplemented as they are by photographs and drawings, even to the most non‐mechanical reader. The many plans and elevations given are enhanced in value by being drawn to and accompanied by the scale, and altogether we have nothing but praise for this book. At least, if we have a grumble, it is that Mr. Clark has not been so full on the “wall system”—which brings us of course to our own fittings of to‐day, and which is therefore not merely of antiquarian value—as he is on the “press” and “lectern” systems. We should therefore be glad to see an expansion of chapter viii. in a new edition.
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Copyright © 1902, MCB UP Limited