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The Library World Volume 7 Issue 1

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Article publication date: 1 July 1904



DURING the past six years, a considerable amount of progress has been made, in certain directions, towards improving methods of library work. The improvements introduced have mostly come from the younger generation of English librarians, and it must also be added that this enthusiasm for betterment has been confined to a very small circle of young librarians. The majority of British librarians have apparently remained untouched by the movement towards more perfect methods compassed by their fellows, and it is doubtful if, in spite of the remarkably good work accomplished by a few “earnest men in various parts of the country, there is not, on the whole, a great preponderance of professional apathy in regard to burning questions of librarianship. The proof of this is only too obvious. Anyone who has watched the dwindling attendances at monthly Library Association meetings must have been struck by the fact as indicative of weakness or defectiveness somewhere. No professional association, with professional interests at stake, is going to languish, and practically sputter out, unless the members are bored, or indifferent, or in some way apathetic. For nearly four years, the interest in the Library Association meetings has been declining, and although the annual gatherings have been more or less successful, thanks to the energy of the provincial members, it must be remembered that the monthly meetings have been very badly attended, although their interest has been as great as heretofore—which, however, is not saying much. Recently, this lack of interest has assumed the form of a kind of epidemic rot, which has attacked other associations as well as the parent one. We hear of one kindred society having entirely suspended its meetings for months, while we read of another which can hardly get an attendance large enough to carry a vote of thanks to the speaker. When we hear it stated that the interest in the Library Association meetings is so languid that even the readers of papers do not trouble to appear, and that about half‐a‐dozen members is all that can be mustered on some occasions, it must be obvious to all that there is something radically wrong. We have heard it suggested that the Library Association meetings take place on an impossible day, and that the notice sent out is insufficient because only published in the Record, which nobody reads ! There may be an element of truth in these suggestions, but hardly enough to account for the all‐round apathy which undoubtedly exists. The stimulus derived from the Leeds meeting has apparently evaporated already, and beyond a decidedly more healthy response to the examination scheme of the Association, it is hard to understand in which direction activity of any kind exists. Comparing the professional work on this side of the Atlantic with that of the United States, it must be confessed that the comparison is very unfavourable to the British case. In America there are dozens of flourishing associations, counting their membership in thousands, while here, there are some half‐dozen associations, including the Library Association itself, which can only muster among them a little more than five hundred members. This is a poor record when one considers the possibilities, and if librarianship is to become a more powerful factor in the educational development of the future, it is evident that a strong effort must be made all round to double the membership of all the existing associations to begin with, and then to interest and retain the members who join by means of live meetings, publications, and other enterprizes. It will not suffice to rest on present achievements if librarianship is to be recognized as a greater power in the State than hitherto, and for this reason it behoves those librarians who have any “go” left in them, to try and pull up the existing machinery to a higher state of efficiency.


(1904), "The Library World Volume 7 Issue 1", New Library World, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 1-28.




Copyright © 1904, MCB UP Limited

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