10 JULY 1964, Page 8

Please Keep Out Presumably the president of the Library Asso-

ciation knew what he was about in the strictures he passed this week on some younger librarians. For these specialists, he indicated, libraries existed as an end in themselves: people who actually went into them to borrow books were a nuisance who interrupted the orderly progress of the librarians' work. I confess I read this authoritative complaint with some surprise. To me librarians have always appeared an admir- ably helpful tribe, amiably sharing one's pleasure at tracking down the book or books one seeks.

In any event, the London Library must most positively be exempted from any suggestion that readers get in the way of librarians. Its staff are impeccably helpful. And yet, sadly, it now appears that its deficit over the past year is the largest ever recorded. This deficit almost exactly equals the Library's rating liability for 1964-65, which is just over £6,000. If our political parties were as enlightened as they like to appear, they would be competing with proposals to free such institutions from these lamentable rating burdens. as was usual once upon a time: but they are not.