THE wheels of the warring world continue to turn with as yet no obviously decisive result. In no place, however, does normal life prevail, however much it may appear to do so. We hear of unoccupied men and women, but rarely meet them; most able‐bodied folk have their national employment, as well as their vocation, today, and the whole race is better for it. Savage and critical as the scene is our people have kept physical and mental health in an unprecedented measure. So far as libraries are concerned, we live in times really remarkable, because the reading of books has been proved to be necessary to the well‐being of the community in the most strenuous days. A glance at the average library report will give evidence enough, and we are receiving more reports of late than in the first and second year of war. One such report, from Worthing, is a typewritten document showing that 55 per cent. of the population are actually enrolled, and that this town of less than sixty thousand people borrowed in 1941–2 little less than 800,000 volumes, a turnover of over twelve per head. We do not know that this is unique, but it must be regarded as the tale of a service which reaches everybody, because most books taken out of a library are read by several members of the household into which they go. While this is the tale of a seaside “neutral” area, from which, however, visitors are barred during “the invasion season,” in the more dangerous areas with their greatly reduced populations issues are returning to pre‐war levels. Even where this is not so, it is found that head for head more books are given out by public librarians than ever before. When we add to their work that of the subscription libraries, a great activity of which we have no figures, the claim that the English are becoming a literate nation seems to have some substance. Anyway, it reads words in enormous quantity.
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