There has come into my hands a copy of Annual Reports for Public Libraries, one of a series of Occasional Papers issued by the University of Illinois Library School. It is the work of Madeline S. Riffey, and runs to 23 pages of typescript. I commend it to the serious attention of librarians. The theory and technique of annual reports is a subject which has been rather neglected in our professional literature. So far as I know, no substantial contribution to the subject has appeared in this country. Which is odd. It cannot be that such an undertaking would be supererogatory. For it is too much to assume that the singular collocation of talents necessary to produce a good report is innate in librarians. Or is it? I am open to correction. It is possible that, by some librarians, an annual report can be thrown off with the creative abandon of a Rilke, who produced 29 of his Sonnets to Orpheus in three days. To this sort of person, the task is no doubt a routine matter. He arrives at the office at 9 a.m., or whatever time librarians do arrive, puts hat and umbrella into storage, walks round carpet to get acclimatised, glances at memo pad, remarks in surprise “Ah Yes! Annual Report. Must knock it off today,” presses buzzer (if he is Mr. Hunt he presses six), and waits with the grey matter seething like the exygemes in yeast.
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