Public reference libraries may be divided into two groups as regards the use they make of official publications. The small and medium‐sized libraries—by far the larger number—buy a small selection only of Government publications. The subject‐matter covers the whole range, but in general it is the major works of reference only that are bought, plus some special series which are of topical or local interest. Such are the Public General Acts, Statutory Instruments, the Nautical Almanac, the Imperial Calendar, the daily—or more likely weekly—Hansard, some of the post‐war building studies, and so on. The other group of libraries—larger libraries such as Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol, Sheffield, Leeds, buy a much more comprehensive range of official publications, including many complete series on standing order. Of these regional libraries, Liverpool, Birmingham and Westminster have standing orders for every item sold by H.M.S.O. A further point of difference is that the smaller libraries buy for immediate and foreseeable use while the larger ones aim at least in part at completeness, and consequently, they preserve all they buy permanently.
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