All public libraries have an important leisure function. For those serving socially stable communities of moderate size, communities without pressing problems of deprivation but in which higher education is not a major industry, it is almost their only function. Large city reference libraries certainly provide information services of indubitably educational nature for students, research workers, industry and commerce, usually serving areas wider than the cities which finance them. Always their librarians are conscious of an educational role, absorbing a quarter to a third of their staff and expenditure, but they too operate lending and community‐based activity services. Smaller towns by contrast maintain informational services adequate for the general needs of their own communities but reliant upon regional reference libraries as referral points for specialist enquiries and research. Authorities serving amorphous, ill‐centred suburban chunks of a large conurbation, with easy access to a large library at the conurbation centre, usually provide little more than quick‐reference and community information services, similar to what better‐centred services provide in larger branch libraries. Prosperous residential suburbs, small market towns and poor inner‐city areas with social problems and unstable populations need quick‐reference and information provision differing as to stock, accommodation and staff. In deprived areas, community information service answering questions on social benefits and personal needs and crises will be the main feature. In prosperous areas, school homework, students on vacation and local leisure opportunities will dominate.
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