The critical budgetting month of March is over, and we are at liberty to glance at the general position of libraries in regard to finance. As we anticipated, certain retrenchments have been effected in the form of reduced contributions from municipal rates, but while these have been regrettable they have in no case been so drastic as utterly to cripple the libraries involved. The unfortunate circumstance in the matter is the haphazard way in which reductions are made. An example worth quoting of this kind occurred at Ealing, where a councillor moved successfully that the appropriation for libraries be reduced to £1,500, without specifying in what directions economies were to be effected, or troubling himself about the working of a system of libraries upon this manifestly inadequate sum; but, after all, to tilt at haphazard methods is to tilt at British character. Naturally, the old exploded arguments against public libraries were advanced in various discussions, as at Croydon, where a councillor stated that the librarian's hours were spent “in handing novels to servant girls, who had nothing better to do,” a statement which he must have known to be untrue; but such arguments have met with small success, and on the whole the libraries have been supported.
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