The Library World Volume 62 Issue 1

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Publication date: 1 July 1960


LOOKING BEFORE AND AFTER : BEFORE Opening, as we do, a new volume of THE LIBRARY WORLD, especially as with it we reach the venerable age of sixty‐one, does suggest retrospective and prospective view. The magazine is the oldest amongst independent library journals, though others existed before 1899 in different forms or under other titles than those by which they are known to‐day. When at the end of last century it was felt that utterances were needed about libraries, unfettered by uncritical allegiance to associations or coteries, librarianship was a vessel riding upon an official sea of complacency so far as its main organisation was concerned. It was in the first tide, so far as public libraries were concerned, of Carnegie gifts of buildings, not yet however at the full flood. The captains were men of the beginnings of the library voyage; who were still guided themselves by the methods and modes of the men who believed in libraries, yet feared what the public might do in its use of them. Hence the indicator, meant to show, as its name implies, what books were available, but even more to secure them from theft, and to preserve men and women from the violent mental reactions they would suffer from close contact with large numbers of books. There were rebels of course. Six years earlier James Duff Brown has turned his anvil shaped building in Clerkenwell into a safeguarded open access library in which he actually allowed people, properly vetted, to enter and handle their own property. This act of faith was a great one, because within a mile or so some 5,000 books had been lost from the Bishopgate Institute Library, which has open shelves, too, not “safeguarded”. Brown's “cave of library chaos” as a well‐known Chairman, who by one visit was convinced of its good sense and practicability, called it, focused the attention of scores of librarians—so much so that Brown had to beg them to keep away for about a year, so that the method might be better judged after sufficient trial. It also focused the attention of the inventors of the indicator, who, presumably, had more than a benevolent interest in its sales. So there was war against this threat and for several years this childish contention raged at conferences, in private conversations amongst library workers, and in letters to the press aimed to convict Brown and all his satellites of encouraging dishonesty, mental confusion and other maladies public. Hence Brown, L. Stanley Jast, William Fortune and others initiated this journal to teach librarians and library committees how libraries were to be run. That, in extreme brevity, is our genesis. For sixty years it has encouraged voices, new and old, orthodox or unorthodox, who had something to say, or could give a new face to old things, to use its pages. Brown was its first honorary Editor, and with some assistance in the later stages remained so for the thirteen years he had yet to live. Nearly every librarian of distinction in his day has at some time or other contributed to these pages. So much of our past may be said and we hope will be allowed.


(1960), "The Library World Volume 62 Issue 1", New Library World, Vol. 62 No. 1, pp. 1-23.

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Copyright © 1960, MCB UP Limited

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