The Library World Volume 9 Issue 2

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Publication date: 1 December 1906


WHEN the open access method of lending books was first introduced on safe‐guarded lines at Clerkenwell, over twelve years ago, a considerable amount of dolorous prophecy was set free, which sometimes formed rather depressing reading for those responsible for the experiment. As time went on, it became clear that many of the prophets based their vaticinations on imperfect knowledge of the actual arrangements in use, and it was then only a simple matter of allowing complete play to one's sense of humour, while the comedy of errors proceeded. One imaginative prophet pictured the time when painstaking librarians would be supplanted by a uniformed janitor, who would assume the functions of librarian, by the easy process of supervising the filtration of readers through a turnstile, like sheep through a hurdle. Another equally resourceful Quidnunc saw in his mind's eye, all the riff‐raff of London, filing through the little Clerkenwell wicket, like a Cup‐tie crowd at the Crystal Palace, without introduction, guarantee, or slightest degree of responsibility. Probably it was only a humorist, and not a prophet, who forsaw the introduction of weighing machines at both entrance and exit wickets, as a means of preventing wholesale thefts. These, and many other absurd misconceptions of the actual mechanical arrangements employed to overcome various anticipated difficulties, formed a considerable proportion of the prophetic utterances which advertised the open access system in its early days.


(1906), "The Library World Volume 9 Issue 2", New Library World, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 40-80.

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Copyright © 1906, MCB UP Limited

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