11 FEBRUARY 1938, Page 2

Libraries and Rates Particular circumstances may justify the decision of

the Manchester Library Committee to close down two libraries in that city. One at least of them appears to be redundant and is both the most expensive and least used in Manchester; and the saving of £2,000 which will be made is a valuable contribution to the efforts to keep the city's rates to 16s. in the pound. Indeed, though the decision was taken in response to the Finance Committee's request for economy, it had already been approved before the request was made. It would be unfortunate, however, if Manchester's action were taken as an example for others to follow, even though to some men public libraries will never seem anything else but an extravagance. In fact they belong to the amenities which every modern citizen has a right to demand and expect, and to reduce their number at this date can only be regarded as a confession of how far society has failed to supply the most normal and beneficial of demands. Recent reports of municipal librarians have shown how much the quality of books borrowed has risen ; taken with other striking signs of popular demand for serious reading matter, such reports show that the moment has come not to close libraries but to hope that they are about to give even more valuable service than in the past.

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