The Public Library was a grim, unattractive‐looking building. Smoke‐blackened and austere, it stood at the junction of two busy thoroughfares, with no outward manifestation of its identity apart from the almost obscured and somehow distasteful words “Free Library”, carved in stone over its portals. It was a repulsive structure, and for a moment or two I was conscious of the forbidding atmosphere which it seemed to radiate. But the town, which I was visiting for business reasons, offered few other attractions. I had dealt half‐heartedly with an un‐imaginative meal, and had a little time to spare. A post‐prandial browse among books seemed to be the only consolation available. Shaking off a feeling of repugnance, I stepped through the swing doors into the dim fastnesses of the interior.
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