Not until the prsesent writer retired from active librarianship, and became dependent upon solleagues' home reading collections, did he have revealed the inadequacy of subject stocks in public libraries, including his own. Admirable books he had never heard of (but should have done) were found, it is true, but others, known to be invaluable to interested readers, were not. In particular, it became obvious that in many, possibly most, public libraries the selection available on the shelves at any one time, on any subject, is usually inadequate and unrepresentative, consisting of the books no one has chosen to borrow, while catalogue checks have indicated surprising, sometimes distressing, gaps. These latter are the more alarming phenomenon: if funds are insufficient for suplication of standard works, politicians may be blameworthy, but if they are not bought at all, it suggests that librarians do not know which are the best books.
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