17 NOVEMBER 1928, Page 20


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] SIR,—The Board of Education report of the Consultative Committee on Books in Public Elementary Schools is, like the curate's egg, good in parts, but it is nevertheless somewhat disappointing. In the first place, notwithstanding its terms of reference, the Committee has given a title to its Report which is a misnomer, inasmuch as the document attempts to cover the larger subject of books and library provision for children generally, and not alone " Books in Public Elementary Schools."

Towards this end a host of witnesses, ninety-three in number, were examined, but most of them represented the scholastic, publishing and bookselling interest. The special knowledge of the Library Association does not appear to have been drawn upon, nor witnesses called from it. The only Library witness was apparently called in an individual capacity, and not as representing a professional body. Seeing the insistent advocacy throughout the Report of co-operation with libraries and librarians, this omission to take fuller advantage of the wide knowledge and experience available is inexplicable. Also there is evidence that the information supplied to the Committee had in some measure been misunderstood; and it is in consequence badly pre- sented. The few lines relating to Halifax are inadequate and inaccurate.

For over twenty years Halifax has been doing most of the things recommended in the Report ; in fact, Halifax is now regarded as a pioneer in work, the results- of which have attracted considerable attention in this country and abroad. Had the Committee appreciated the large volume of effort developed in recent years to cover many of the objects it has in mind, the Report would have been of greater value than it is.—I am, Sir, &e., Public Library, EDWARD GREEN.