OUR correspondent revives the problem of fiction supply on a paying basis to readers in public libraries. The figures he gives of the sums that a charge of one penny per issue might realize in certain libraries if the number of books issued remains as last year are impressive; the sums are usefully substantial. He does not deal with objections obvious to librarians. We have recently been admonished for making any charge in connexion with our lendings, as we have shown in these pages, when we wrote that the law can be altered although new library legislation seems unlikely at present. The other quite practical difficulties are that one withdraws privileges from the public only at the risk of a clamour for their restoration. Then it is commonsense to argue that if the people desire to provide themselves with any kind of reading from public funds they have the right to do so. At present they appear to exercise that right, otherwise it seems unlikely that a large city would allow two millions of fiction to be circulated out of a total issue of three and a half millions. It cannot be contended that our local statesmen do not see the significance of these figures. There is the further question of the unsatisfactory nature of the terms non‐fiction as embracing everything that is not narrative imaginative prose, and fiction as embracing everything that is. The whole question, like the poor, is always with us, but it cannot conveniently be brushed aside.
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