THE claims of the small library on the attention of librarians have been so completely overshadowed by those of the more showy and, in many respects, more important, large library, that comparatively little literature of a useful kind exist relating to book collections in their early stages of development. By small library is meant the small general collection of books numbering from 200 to 5,000 volumes, such as is gathered by private individuals, schools, churches, commercial firms, and other agencies, to which books are either tools, or a valuable means of affording recreation. As a rule, such collections are formed without much regard to order or care in selection, save in the case of the special libraries of private collectors, and the majority of the small libraries are, accordingly, very heterogenous in their contents and hopelessly primitive in their methods. The same is unfortunately true of many of the smaller Public Libraries of this country, which are ill‐proportioned, ignorantly selected and thoroughly unsatisfactory heaps of literary refuse. If anyone is sufficiently curious and patient to study the catalogue of the average small British subscription, private or semi‐private library, he will be surprised by the revelations therein made of bad judgment in selection, and an extraordinary lack of proportion between class and class, author and author, and subject and subject. No attempt is made in such libraries to keep in touch with modern scientific, artistic, historical, social or literary progress, because most of the limited funds available for this purpose are squandered in the provision of third‐rate fiction and the cheapest kinds of elementary primers. The ambition to place as many books on the shelves in the shortest space of time is responsible for the poor quality of the literature stocked by the average small library. Instead of purchasing and adding with care and attention to quality, such libraries practically accept anything which comes their way, whether in the shape of donations or purchases, and they would probably house a well‐bound grocer's price list with as much alacrity as an edition of Shakespeare or any other literary masterpiece.
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