JUNE, from the enemy aerial view, has been a quiet month. Hitler, as was demonstrated on June 22nd, had turned his attention to Russia, and so more English libraries have not been added to his bag. The lull has given some of us a space in which to clear out debris and to get our damaged libraries more shipshape. In this, our new volume (Vol. xliv. No. 500), we glance rapidly back over a momentous year. It is difficult to realize that eleven months ago not a volume had been lost or a brick displaced in British libraries; that, in spite of the agony and triumph of Dunkirk, out attacks on Germany had been mainly of the paper kind; and that most, but by no means all, of our young librarians were still with us. The change has been great. True, the Battle of Britain, 1940, was won; but the night bomber introduced death and disaster unprecedented in this country, though well‐known in invaded lands. We went to bed at night hopeful and woke thankful, but not certain that there would be an awakening. Libraries suffered with other military objectives such as the small homes of suburban and country folk. We have been praised by our American brethren as heroic, and that is pleasant to hear, but we have not felt heroic; we have stood up to it because no other course is possible or thinkable. The problems of librarians in evacuation areas have been great; large numbers of their people migrated, and in some cases there were defence areas to which no visitor might go; falling revenues made existence almost impossible, and staffs were dismissed or transferred, the posts of librarians of years of service being endangered. Yet these sent out books for children in reception areas where, of their own kind, the problems were also great. Some libraries were overwhelmed by the demands made upon them, and although some towns (for example, Newton Abbot) have been prosperous beyond their experience as a result of the new settlers, the local authorities have had such “war economy” in their minds that they have been unwilling to do their obvious duty to libraries. This was, however, not universal. The year saw, unfortunately, the beginning of the new Roll of Honour for librarians, which in this case contains a few names of those killed in air raids over us; some, too, have been injured, although all, we believe, have now recovered. Active work has been done by many librarians for the Forces—some with a rather heavy loss of books. The Camps and Services Libraries movement, good as has been its limited activity, has not achieved much in the way of “libraries”. We have hopes, however. Everything is still, in most matters of the present and the future, in an undecided state—except the will to win through: that is universal and certain. The encouragement we receive from our American friends has been a heartening feature of a year of immense, and we believe hopeful, importance to men.
MCB UP Ltd
Copyright © 1941, MCB UP Limited