WE commence a volume of THE LIBRARY WORLD in circumstances which seem more cheerful for libraries than was expected when 1953 began. The community has survived the largest increase in local rates that has been imposed for many years with almost equanimity and libraries have not suffered appreciably in their budgets, although many of them suffered cuts which twenty years ago might have been disastrous. So far as library development is concerned we see a few signs that the bleak period of library building may become less rigid. We read of a development scheme of the spread‐over sort for the Surrey County Library that will cost £440,000 approximately. There have been a few libraries restored by the grants of the War Damage Commission; and of these the National Central Library reconstruction which cost over £90,000 is perhaps the chief example. Smaller but quite substantial signs are the new modular branch library, the first of its kind in England, the Manor Branch, Sheffield. This is alleged to be our largest branch library; if this is so, it is larger than the Leith Library at Edinburgh. Anyway, all public librarians will congratulate themselves on having an example in being of the modern flexible plan which must obviously influence the future. Librarians are not always masters of the building situation; they may have to accommodate themselves to town‐planners, local architects, ambitious ward councillors who have a natural desire for a “fine” building for the use of their immediate electors. So they may when the time comes have forced upon them buildings suitable for the hour but of such outer architectural permanence that they cannot be scrapped for a century. A succession of completely adaptable temporary buildings, which need not be expensive or inartistic, is what modern library service seems to demand. As a well‐known librarian asked of a famous architect: “Give us large linear and cubic space, well warmed, lighted and ventilated and no fixed divisions of the apartments in it.” The modular system, as in the Sheffield example alone seems to fulfil this condition at present. Further happy signs are the news that £9,000 is to be spent on improving Fulham Central Library, and the opening of departments such as two children's libraries at Hampstead and temporary branches as at Hull.
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