THERE was a rather remarkable statement made at the Royal Institute of British Architects by Mr. Berwick Sayers last month. He affirmed that so far as the recorded issues of the reference libraries in the municipal libraries of London were concerned, only 8,880 books were consulted daily. This, as the statistical account of twenty‐nine public libraries, shows an average of a fraction over 302 books daily. To some this may seem not an inadequate issue, if all the books recorded are books which the student and the searcher for information have used. The point of the meeting at which the remark was made was that the reference libraries of London should do more in co‐operation with industry, and it was argued by the representatives of ASLIB who took part in the conference that our London reference libraries should be strengthened in the science and technology departments, even at the expense of the lending libraries. The experience of the public librarian seemed to be that few people lived in London near their work; and that they had command of the special libraries in London in a way that provincial industrialists had not, and therefore they did not make any use that mattered of London reference libraries. The Chambers of Commerce in the various boroughs of London consist of small traders as a rule whose main purpose is “to keep down the rates,” and who have very little connection with industry on the scale in the minds of the ASLIB representatives. In short, the chief function of the London public libraries is mainly that of home reading. Ultimately the solution of the reference problem may be the establishment of one or two great regional reference libraries supported by the co‐operation of the boroughs. Co‐operation, however, is in its initial stages yet, and it will probably be some time before such an ideal, if it be an ideal, is achieved.
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