1916, the most difficult year in the history of the library movement, has passed not without some satisfaction to library workers. The war dominated everything, and in its atmosphere most intellectual movements have paused somewhat so far as practical activities were concerned. At the end of the financial year in March, the voice of the Philistine was prominent and strident, and many reductions were made in the rate grants to public libraries. Few, however, did more than cripple their activities, and on the whole a fair measure of public sanity prevailed. In the circumstances the wider progress of the library movement has been small, but there has been progress. Unostentatiously, but systematically, the Carnegie Trustees have urged rural library schemes upon several county councils, and have made grants to urban libraries for new buildings, the erection of which, however, they have required to be postponed until the peace. The tercentenary of Shakespeare found librarians and library authorities awake and interested, and much good work was done. Towards the end of the year commercial libraries were discussed with remarkable unanimity in most of the great cities, and actually materialised in the fine experiment at Glasgow described in our last issue. In so far as librarians are concerned, the year has been eventful for the calling away of nearly all remaining men of military age. In connection with this the military authorities in many districts have shown a complete indifference to the intellectual requirements of the people. It is difficult to say how many library workers are now with the Colours, but six hundred would be a very conservative estimate. Some, alas, of the most promising men in the profession have fallen. An endeavour is being made by the Library Assistants' Association to preserve a record of all who have gone forth for the Empire. Naturally, library appointments have been few, and most of those that have been made have been of a temporary nature. On the literary side, too, librarianship has been practically sterile in this country. The book by Messrs. Gower, Jast and Topley, on photographic record work is a remarkable exception, but is not entirely a book of library methodology. America has not produced very much, but we noted a useful book by Mr. Arthur L. Bailey on library bookbinding, which appeared in the middle of the year. Throughout the year the Library Association has pursued a policy of masterly inactivity, and has missed most of the opportunities for constructive schemes which war time has offered. Its general meetings were abandoned in London, its Council has met irregularly, and it has eluded practically every problem which it ought to have faced. We have been consistently critical of this state of affairs, but we still believe in the Library Association, and our criticism, however trenchant, has not been to destroy but to revivify and accelerate. We do not think that librarians can do without the Association, and in all our attacks upon its stagnation we have kept this view clearly before us. The President of the Association, while condoning the suspension of the general meetings, has generously filled the gap made by their omission with the interesting reunions at the Royal Society of Medicine. Hope of better things has been raised by the belated establishment of the Technical Libraries Committee, to which we look for a forward and aggressive policy. The Library Assistants' Association has wisely refused to follow the example of its seniors. The few monthly meetings it has held have been intensely practical and focussed upon the problems of the hour. We hope they will continue in spite of the increased railway fares which in the new year have added difficulty to travelling. The establishment of the North Central Library Association provided an immensely important part of England with a means of creating and circulating library opinion. This brief chronique of the doings of the year leaves us hopeful if not contented. Financial and staff problems are likely to increase while the war endures, but having surmounted these and our other difficulties thus far, we look forward with confidence to similar success.
MCB UP Ltd
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