THE London and Home Counties Branch is fortunate in having close at hand watering places which can house its Autumn or other Conferences conveniently. Hove in fair weather in October is a place of considerable charm; it has many varieties of hotel, from the very expensive to the modest; it is used to conferences and the hospitality of the Town Hall is widely known. This year's conference was focused in the main on problems of book‐selection which, as one writer truly says, is the main purpose of the librarian because all his possibilities hang upon it. The papers read are valuable because they appear to be quite unvarnished accounts of the individual practice of their writers. Of its kind that of Mr. Frank M. Gardner is a model and a careful study of it by the library worker who is in actual contact with the public might be useful. For his methods the paper must be read; they are a clever up‐to‐minute expansion of those laid down in Brown's Manual with several local checks and variations. Their defects are explained most usefully; there is no examination of actual books before purchase and bookshops are not visited, both of which defects are due to the absence in Luton of well‐stocked bookshops; a defect which many sizeable towns share. We find this remark significant: “The librarian of Luton in 1911 had a book‐fund of £280 a year for 30,000 people. I have nearly £9,000 for 110,000. But the Librarian in 1911 was a better book‐selector than we are. He had to be, to give a library service at all. Every possible purchase had to be looked at, every doubt eliminated.” We deprecate the word “better”; in 1911 book‐selection was not always well done, but Brown's methods could be carried out if it was thought expedient to do the work as well as it could be done. The modern librarian and his employers seem to have determined that the whole of the people shall be served by the library; that books shall be made available hot from the press, with as few exclusions as possible. No librarian willingly buys rubbish; but only in the largest libraries can a completely comprehensive selection practice be maintained. Few librarians can be quite satisfied to acquire their books from lists made by other people although they may use them for suggestions. How difficult is the problem Mr. Gardner demonstrates in connexion with books on Bridge; a shelf of apparently authoritative books might possibly contain not one that actually met the conditions of today. If this could be so in one very small subject, what might be the condition of a collection covering, or intended to cover, all subjects? Librarians have to be realists; orthodox methods do not always avail to deal with the cataract of modern books; but gradually, by cooperative methods, mechanical aids and an ever‐increasing staff devoted to this, the principal library job, much more may be done than is now possible.
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