OUR readers may be amused this month by the microfilm imaginings of our correspondent in “Letters on Our Affairs,” but there is undoubtedly a more marked disposition now than formerly to reduce to a mechanism many of the usual routines of libraries. We suppose routine is always mechanical, is repetitive and, for the enterprising ambitious library worker, a matter of boredom. How far the “electronic brain” and other more recent developments of science can be adapted to our simple processes remains to be seen, but all experiment is good even if it does not survive the initial stage. What is to be most feared in any profession is the standardizing inflexibly of its techniques ; that way lies its old age, perhaps its petrification. It is for this reason that we welcome such things as those we have already discussed at times in our pages—the central cataloguing experiment of Harrods, the punched‐card vouchers and other records sponsored (so far as libraries are concerned) by Mr. T. E. Callender, the highly mechanised method of classing propounded by Dr. Ranganathan, the placing of D.C. numbers on the title pages of the books they publish by Jonathan Cape and Harrap, the visible fines receiving box and many more such things. No one uses them all. They free librarians, it is urged, for more specifically library service. We hope that they do. We have always before us the undoubted truth that the good man scraps methods that are obsolescent and the librarian (if one now exists) who is not a business man—especially if he is charged with a large library—is a somewhat pathetic person.
MCB UP Ltd
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