A lovely article from The Guardian (where else?) which has been dredged out of the archives from 1910. There was a meeting of representatives from over 500 libraries mainly from the UK but from the US too.
With the advent of new legislation enabling public libraries to exist, statistics had been compiled showing that 24% of books taken from UK libraries were fiction and of classics comprising content with high merit. On that basis, the librarians agreed that their books were not agents of knowledge transfer but also were passing on high culture down to the masses.
I mention it for two reasons: in the UK, libraries are suffering from tremendous funding cuts as the world of austerity digs deep into these cultural conduits. Secondly, I’d be very surprised if three quarters of withdrawals were for non-fiction now that any fool can read a page on the web and treat it as having the same credibility as a well-researched piece of journalism or academic research.
The times they have well and truly changed.