EVERY time we have occasion to compare the work of different libraries or to obtain exact information about certain of their activities we wish once more that some standardised form and method could be generally adopted for statistics. We would like to see the Library Association take up this matter, which is at least as necessary as the Standardisation of Accounts. The L.A. Outline for Annual Statements is very useful, but it does not go far enough. Not only should it be decided what information should be presented; it should be laid down exactly what should be included under the different headings. The most necessary definition is what shall be embraced and excluded under the heading “fiction.” Some librarians, rightly or wrongly (personally we think wrongly, because it leads to confusion and ambiguity) classify (as literature, or according to subject matter) and count as “non fiction” a varying proportion of the novels issued. Consequently, they are able to boast of a large non‐fiction percentage. Probably the practice has the reverse effect to that intended, since once it is realised that any novels are included in the non‐fiction percentage doubt arises as to the amount of “real” non‐fiction issued. The librarian who openly asserted that his non‐fiction percentage was so and so, but that it did not include a single work of prose fiction, would surely be in a stronger position. A more serious objection, however, is that comparison is impossible, and misleading. The librarian who keeps strictly to the old practice of calling a spade a spade is placed in a very unpleasant position if he is asked why another town, where he knows the non‐fiction issues to be on a par with his own, records a much higher non‐fiction percentage. Few reports, again, show what part of the juvenile issues are of non‐fiction. In fact, in every part of our statistical work we all follow our own methods and so make comparative studies impossible.
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