THE Library Association has begun the Centenary of the Public Libraries Acts' celebrations with an attractive booklet which, we suppose, is now in the hands of many, if not most, of our readers. We are to have, we understand, an official, documented history which should be worthy of the occasion; that may come later. The booklet, however, A Century of Public Library Service, should be made available in every library. To be effective it should go into every household—a manifest impossibility on any means at the command of the Library Association, since the booklet itself puts the registered borrowers alone at twelve millions, and if there are five people to a household, nearly two and a half million copies would be required. If it goes to every service point that will involve 23,000. These figures illustrate the difficulties of our publicity. The machine is too vast for all its parts to be reached. We suppose it will go to every librarian and every member of a library committee—about 6,000 copies—and that may be a good plan, although that would be sending it to those who are, we hope, converted. As for the book itself, it follows the lines of the paper read by Mr. L. R. McColvin at Eastbourne last year; it tells our history; shows by graph and figure the vast increase in supply to meet demand; deals successively with the various parts of the service; and surveys the future. Its value is as an assessment of book stock, staff and relative success and failure and the relation of these to the resources, financial and otherwise, of libraries. In 1949 we are spending £1,650,000 on books, if our calculation at 2s. 9d. per borrower is correct. This, for the whole population—say 45 millions—is not lavish. These and many other useful points are indicated. The work is for domestic consumption, to serve as a basis for self‐examination. On the physical side it is attractive, is printed on plate paper, which brings out brightly the twenty‐five illustrations and a graph, which show pleasant samples of libraries and readers. As a curious point we find no sign in any of the pictures that there are men librarians in public libraries.
MCB UP Ltd
Copyright © 1949, MCB UP Limited