OPTIMISM as to the outlook is shown by the report from Sheffield of a book‐moving day, or perhaps returning‐day would be a better phrase, which involved the return from safe storage to the Central Library of 10,000 books, 5,000 manuscripts and plans, and 10 tons of newspaper files. This probably is the first record of a homeward pilgrimage for hundreds of thousands of volumes of books as well as artistic and other treasures from bomb‐proof concealment. It is, however, yet too early for the districts in southern England to undertake the risk involved in such return. The newspapers are wisely silent about the areas in which there is still risk, but they are quite inarticulate as to the nature of the risk and it is clear that it covers a large area. The recent mobilization of air defences at Edinburgh suggests too that the particular type of attack to which Great Britain is still subject may not be confined to the south of England—from the nature of the weapon there appears to be no reason why it should be. Nevertheless, the risk that we think Sheffield takes is a legitimate one. People have returned in large numbers to their own homes; they need libraries and within reasonable limits they should have them. Our best work cannot be done when the valuable part of our stock is in inaccessible places. This return of books will create in many towns a serious storage problem: we can point to libraries which distributed their stock and which through accessions, gifts from evacuated people and other sources of accession, have filled most of the space occupied by their ordinary stock. Most of us need new buildings and our priority for them must be low. The ingenuity of librarians will be severely taxed in this as in many other matters.
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