To read this content please select one of the options below:

The Library World Volume 53 Issue 9

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Article publication date: 1 September 1951



The utterance at a recent council estimates meeting of an Alderman to the effect that he opposed increase of the book‐fund of the libraries in the town because, whenever he wanted a book, he bought it, was, we suspect, a vainglorious one used for a special purpose and time. It was obviously, too, that of a man who may read on occasion, but is not a regular user of books. There are many such and, no doubt, their limited point of view is to be encouraged, so far as book‐purchase is concerned. What it disregards, or does not understand, is that the real reader cannot easily contemplate life without books; he never has enough of them, even if he is not a hoarder of them. There are thousands such. Their homes are not large enough, and their purses are too limited, for them to buy everything they want to read. The “Alderman” can feel that books are cheap; he spends more, if he has the means, on a box of cigars, or a bottle of whiskey, than any ordinary book costs. A single visit to a theatre with his wife (with the inevitable accompanying dinner or supper and transport) costs him more than a shelf of them. If he throws away the book when read, or rejected—for only a few such books are read through by the type under consideration—that is of little more con‐sideration than his disposal of cigar ash or used theatre tickets. In this stringent time the greater part of the community depends upon the borrowed book. Inevitably this will increasingly be the case. Every man and woman, however, who loves books desires to possess them, and every wise librarian encourages that desire. It can reduce the use of libraries very little, if at all, and our business as librarians should be to provide for the literate nation, indeed to assist its making. There are many ways in which this might be done—the provision of lists on “Books for Every Home” with clear notes on why, for it must be realized that not every citizen knows the books that are commonplace tools. In how many homes, for instance, is Whittaker's Almanack to be found? A reference book, of course; but almost the first need of a household is a set of the best tools of this sort. Has any library yet issued a list with this special intention? Say, “Six Books necessary to Every Home”? We assume that when a reader is passionately drawn to a book he must buy it, but such attraction is mainly felt by those who are already book‐lovers. For others there are such questions as, where shall we put the books suggested? An answer may be that every librarian, in his own area, should urge that built‐in bookcases should be a feature in every house plan. He might do much to solve a real problem. He can continue, too, to assist book‐buying by his periodic exhibitions of books for prizes, presents (Christmas and birthday) and help to answer the question, “What books of great literature ought to be in every home for children and for life‐keeping?” His every convert would become also a life user of libraries.


(1951), "The Library World Volume 53 Issue 9", New Library World, Vol. 53 No. 9, pp. 229-252.




Copyright © 1951, MCB UP Limited

Related articles