IN an article in The Economist for February 17th, entitled “Facts about Fiction,” the writer refers to “this useful but unobtrusive social service” (the public libraries) and the unaccustomed limelight in which they were bathed by the Centenary. The adjectives, congenial as they are and, indeed, as is the tone of the whole article, merit further examination; but the main subject discussed is the library which lends books for money profit. It may be that there will never be a condition of affairs in which the supply of fiction—however it is given—will not be called into question. It is, we are convinced, desirable that it should be reviewed from time to time by the public librarian. It is hoped that this number may be a useful instance. The writer, we notice, has memories of libraries which were “jolted” out of the cast‐iron system of the indicator method of issue by the increase of reading between the two wars. We know that this freedom was won before the first world war. The other point that concerns us is the assertion that a general opinion of light reading in public libraries is based on a wrong view. “In even the biggest and most liberally provided public libraries the addict of one class of novel—be it ‘typist‐marries‐boss’ or ‘riding the range’—can only find enough of them to whet his appetite”; he must soon turn to a circulating library. We think it is probable, on reflection, that most librarians would agree.
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