Far too much weight seems to have been given to the Local Government Board circular which mentioned public libraries as institutions whose expenditure should be examined with a view to effecting economies. This, to the ordinary person, would seem to call on library committees to exercise special care to prevent unnecessary expenditure, and more particularly to see that capital expenditure on new buildings and extensions is not made. The first of these requirements has been common for years; had there been wasteful expenditure, and if librarians had not carefully financed their resources, half the libraries in England would have been bankrupt long ago. The second requirement is just, and would be accepted even by the most unbridled library enthusiast. But local bodies have not been content so to read the circular. They have frequently interpreted it to mean that “libraries must mark time,” are “of small value in peace and less in war,” and the war is being made an excuse by old‐standing opponents of public culture to do as much damage as possible to the library movement.
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