ONE or two questions raised by the writer of “Letters on our Affairs” this month are of some urgency. The first, the physical condition of books, is one that is long over‐due for full discussion with a view to complete revision of our method. The increased book fund of post‐war years, and the unexpected success of the twopenny library, have brought us to the point when we should concentrate upon beautiful and clean editions of good books, and encourage the public to use them. “Euripides” is quite right in his contention that there is too much dependence upon the outcasts of the circulating library for replenishing the stocks of public lending libraries. We say this gravely and advisedly. Many librarians depend almost entirely upon the off‐scourings of commercial libraries for their fiction. The result, of course, is contempt of that stock from all readers who are not without knowledge of books. It is the business of the public library now to scrap all books that are stained, unpleasant to the sight, in bad print, and otherwise unattractive. Of old, it was necessary for us to work hard, and by careful conservation of sometimes quite dirty books, in order to get enough books to serve our readers. To‐day this is no longer the case, except in quite backward areas. The average well‐supported public library—and there are many now in that category—should aim at a reduction of stock to proportions which are really useful, which are good and which are ultimately attractive if not beautiful. The time has arrived when a dirty book, or a poorly printed book, or a book which has no artistic appeal, should be regarded as a reproach to the library preserving it.
MCB UP Ltd
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