Lack of shelf room is no new problem to the librarian. In the past, relief for overcrowded shelves has traditionally been sought in the extension of existing buildings, or the construction of new ones. Where neither method could be adopted to provide for the normal growth of stocks or where accessions were unexpectedly and greatly augmented, for example by the receipt of a large collection of books, severe difficulties often resulted, and the annals of libraries refer often enough to material lying unshelved or housed in totally unsatisfactory quarters. Once the shelf had evolved from the book‐rests of the medieval library nearly four centuries were to pass before any further significant step was taken in storage methods.
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