ONE of the pressing problems that faces the public librarian of to‐day is the finding of adequate protection for the property committed to his care. The open‐access library loses books; at any rate now‐a‐days. But there is no means of prosecuting borrowers who take an extra book from the library in their pockets. There are model standing orders which may be adopted, which regulate the conduct of readers in reference libraries and reading rooms, but a book‐thief may plead that he meant only to borrow a book that has been found in his possession, and his offence will be treated merely as a technical breach of the rule that a book must be “charged” before it is taken from the library. When a clear case has been made, as in the notorious Walthamstow case, a foolishly sentimental Bench will refuse to help the libraries. We would urge the Library Association to give some consideration to the drafting of model standing orders which will give legal effect to the present “rules” under which libraries work, rules which the vicious may defy almost with impunity. The safety of the books in most libraries depends, actually, on public ignorance of the fact that most of our rules have no legal authority behind them.
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