The Library World Volume 62 Issue 2

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Publication date: 1 August 1960


ROYAL Alderman T. A. Abbott of Manchester, dealt with somewhat severely by Dr. Savage in his A Librarian's Memories, had at least enthusiasm for libraries. He was mightily honoured when he became President at our Manchester Conference in 1921. “We are the Royal Library Association”, he declared and should call ourselves that; haven't we a Royal Charter? Our recognition comes direct from the Sovereign”. No doubt a vain wish, although the Library Association seemed to come near it in 1950 when George VI graciously became its Patron and the Duke of Edinburgh its President. Since that date the engineers have become “royal”, but we have slipped back. When Her Majesty came to the Throne, the patronage her father had bestowed was refused, no doubt on the direct counsel of her advisers who would not want so young a Sovereign to assume too many offices. On that view librarians could not murmur. There is a future, however, and in it there will be a new Library Association House next to, almost conjoined with, a new National Central Library. King George V with Queen Mary opened the second, as is well remembered especially by the King's speech, one of the best, most useful, in library history, in which he described the N.C.L. as “a university that all might join and none need ever leave”—words that we hope may somewhere be displayed in, or on, the new N.C.L. building. Royalty and its interest in libraries has been again manifested in the opening last month (July 13th to be precise) by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, of the new Central Public Library at Kensington. The Royal Family has close relations with Kensington of course. It is recalled, too, that the Manchester Central and that at Birkenhead were opened also by King George V and Queen Mary; and Queen Elizabeth II quite recently opened the Central Library of the re‐created city of Plymouth, the largest new town library since the Second World War. Kensington has now opened the first major London library since 1939. It is not modern in spirit externally and, as is known, is the work of the architect of the Manchester Reference Library, Mr. Vincent Harris, and there is no doubt about its dignity. Its interior methods are, however, quite modern; a few of them were broadcast to us for a few moments by the B.B.C. announcer, to the effect that there were 100,000 books, that returned books in the lending library were not discharged at the counter but slid down a chute to a room below where that was done, etc., with the remark that books not available in the public apartment could be requisitioned from other libraries but, with the large stocks on show and in the building, that did not seem to be very necessary. We sometimes wish that broadcasters, however well intentioned that may have been, knew something about libraries. Happening at about the same time was the removal of the Holborn Central Library stock to its new home in Theobald's Road, a complex process which Mr. Swift and his staff carried out in July without interrupting the public service. We hope that Mr. Swift will be able soon to tell us how he carried out this scheme. Thus has begun what we hope will be a process of replacing many other London libraries with modern buildings more worthy of the excellent work now being done in them.


(1960), "The Library World Volume 62 Issue 2", New Library World, Vol. 62 No. 2, pp. 25-48.

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Copyright © 1960, MCB UP Limited

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