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Library Politics

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 1 August 1936



I COME to another danger ahead, indeed not so much ahead as with us, here and now. I refer to the temptation to cater unduly for the crowd, to allow the higher purposes of the library to be sunk in the race for results. This was the subject of a paper read by me to the annual conference of the Association in London in 1934. The discussion which I hoped it would be the means of raising, as a preliminary to some declaration of policy by the Association, did not eventuate. My point was, and is, that we can pay too heavily for big circulations, and that we do pay too heavily, when we stock our shelves, like the majority of modern booksellers, with the books of the hour and of the crowd, neglecting intrinsic for temporary issue qualities. We all of us know that if we considered only circulation we could bring up issues to almost anything we liked, within the limits of our means and population. I don't suggest that any public librarian does this. But obviously the point of compromise will shift according to the personal leaning of the librarian. My contention is that there are many indications that the shift is dangerously on the side of cheap popularity, and that if we are to save the public libraries as primarily an intellectual service, we must see clearly where we are, and formulate some reasonable principle of action.


STANLEY JAST, L. (1936), "Library Politics", Library Review, Vol. 5 No. 8, pp. 364-369.




Copyright © 1936, MCB UP Limited

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