HERALDED by a leading article in The Times which appeared on the morning of its publication, the Report on the Public Libraries System of Great Britain by Mr. Lionel R. McColvin is now available. It will, without doubt, be the most carefully read current work in its own field, and its suggestions will be subjected to the closest scrutiny. Our correspondent in “Letters on Our Affairs” makes the first step in our pages in this direction, although, as he indicates, his views are merely preliminary. Last month we suggested that if such a report were issued by the Library Association, it should be made quite clear that it is the pronouncement of an individual and not an official document in the strict sense. Already, of course, as The Times leader seems to suggest, the distinction between Mr. McColvin's work and the views of the Library Association have been confused in the public mind. That was inevitable. But we understand that the Association at a later time will issue its own considered statement of what it thinks to be necessary and practicable in the re‐construction of the library service—if, indeed, it is reconstructed—to meet after‐war needs. On the whole, the book is quite readable and betrays very little of the hurry in which it must have been written: its facts seem to be sound and marshalled with considerable skill; its general outlook is generous. With much of it there will not only be agreement; there will be enthusiastic agreement. In so far as it is a proposed system for post‐war organization, it follows the lines already suggested by the Regional Systems created for Civil Defence, involving larger library areas administered from what Mr. McColvin believes to be the central town or other focus of each area. The counties as such disappear, the smaller towns and villages merge into the central town, and so we get in one way or another a cohesive, self‐sufficient and mutually supporting set of libraries in each area. It is around the choice of area and all its implications that discussion will rage and upon which it will be most difficult to obtain general consent. These units, however, while essential to Mr. McColvin's scheme, cannot be regarded other than as proposals to be discussed. Librarians will be quick to see that many of them will become branch librarians if the scheme matures, but in every one of the many schemes we have seen for post‐war re‐construction, larger units than the present ones are invariably implied, and this of necessity means the disappearance as chief officers of many now holding office. This is only one item in a whole series of discussable proposals. We hope that every one or our readers will study the Report and will bring to the common discussions that must be forthcoming a complete and, we hope, impartial understanding of what is involved.
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