DURING the past thirty years or so most of our university libraries have developed systems of administration and organisation closely resembling those of large industries. Even in the older foundations today, while that atmosphere of calm which is essential to the contemplative mind is still evident, behind the scenes there pulsates a most efficient organisation, as busily active as any in the most uptodate factory. That this is not apparent to the average readerwho, as we all know, believes that books select, order, purchase, bind, accession, catalogue, classify and shelve themselvesis a tribute to the selfeffacing modesty of our business efficiency which advertises not itself, makes no display of its drivingforce, nor does it use the presumptive jargon of the traveller in useless commodities. On the contrary, our efficiency must create and maintain a most accessible Tower of Prigord in which the receptive minds of the Montaignes of our day, no less than those of the Marconis, may follow their bent with only unobtrusive help and guidance. That this is so competently achieved in our university libraries is the finest testimonial to the present staffs of those libraries. It was one thing to administer a university library two hundred years ago, when books and readers alike were comparatively few and when the demarcation of the whole field of university education was clear it is quite another matter today, when elimination of circumscribed education is the order. And so, with a limitless field to cover, a vast and evergrowing organisation to control, university librarians have wisely taken over, modified, and improved systems of organisation originally planned by economists for other ends.
Library Review – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 1, 1949