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Geoffrey Alley, Librarian: His Life & Work

Chapter 5 — The Library World

page 67

Chapter 5
The Library World

European New Zealand was bookish from the start. Athenaeums and mechanics' institutes, with their library collections, were among the first focal points of the planned settlements, and the capitalists who were encouraged to bring their money with them also brought educational traditions and habits which supported those of the earnest Victorian working classes who were intended to be the solid and productive toilers of the transplanted society.

Several of the provincial governments, after they were established in 1852, provided varying degrees of financial aid to small libraries in scattered communities. The central government's Municipal Corporations Act 1867 empowered boroughs to establish public libraries to which admission should be free to the public, but was silent on the matter of the free lending of books which was an important feature of British legislation from 1850 on. It did not cover the matter of libraries outside municipal boundaries.1

The abolition of the provinces in 1876 was a disaster for many forms of public service, including libraries. There may well have been good reasons for doing away with their mini-parliaments and concentrating public works and other developments under central control, but the provinces, which could still have been suitable as administrative areas for local government and local services, were broken up, on the one hand into municipalities which were looked upon as big brothers by their country cousins, and on the other into a plethora of counties which were hardly strong enough financially to look after their roads, let alone any kind of educational function. The inevitable result was to centralise in Wellington many functions which should have been handled by strong local authorities, to foster the creation of numerous ad hoc bodies to handle such services as education and hospitals, and to create vested interests which discouraged the kind of co-operation which might have overcome the administrative problems of small, independent units. In 1940, by which time the original 63 counties had become 129, Leicester Webb wrote that 'the New Zealand system of local government is like an unpruned apple tree – a profuse and page 68tangled growth bearing very little fruit'.2

Most boroughs, including those designated as cities, eventually took advantage of their ability to establish public libraries, but almost all of them required a subscription to be paid for borrowing privileges, which had the effect of restricting membership and therefore restricting the range of books which could justifiably be held in them; this in turn further restricted the advantages of membership. Counties were permitted by the Counties Act 1876 to establish or aid a number of cultural enterprises, including libraries, but their financial resources, in most cases, were not equal to the task. The central government, under the Public Libraries Subsidies Act 1877, took over the role of assistance to libraries in scattered communities and carried it out, with lapses when economic conditions were unfavourable, until 1929, in which year the vote of £3000 was split among 338 libraries. To qualify for the subsidy, libraries were required to charge members a subscription of at least five shillings a year for borrowing rights. The subscription system, which had no parallel in Britain, was therefore firmly entrenched. The subsidy, small though it was, was abolished in 1930 as a Depression measure.

In any case, the subsidy was a mere gesture in a situation which called for a more systematic approach. The libraries which received it were, in the main, small private or semi-private organisations which operated quite independently of each other. To be effective they needed to be units in larger systems, with a wide range of resources available to them which could be called upon by such mechanisms as the regular circulation of stock or the ready availability of books on request. Systems of this kind could have been developed by large local body units, but these did not exist in rural areas, and co-operation between municipalities and counties, based on goodwill without the backing of legislation, was always very hard to achieve. Much has been made at times of the quality of the books which survived from many of the small rural libraries, but their survival, in good condition, is an indication that they were not greatly used. As part of the stock of larger systems they would have been read by many more people, in many cases to destruction, and the distribution points, the small rural libraries, would have seen a much wider range of them.

By 1930 there were public libraries of a moderate but reasonable standard in most municipalities in New Zealand, all except a very few of them under-used and operating well below their potential because of the inhibitions of the subscription system. Of other types of libraries there were very few of any consequence. The General Assembly Library was well established and was used by others besides politicians; the Alexander Turnbull Library was the chief among a small group of libraries created by benefactors but yet to be developed; academic and research libraries were page 69pitifully inadequate; and there was nothing resembling a national library system, with or without regional decentralisation.

For 20 years at least, however, the problems of New Zealand libraries had been attracting the attention of a few far-sighted people. In 1910 the Dunedin City Council convened a conference of library authorities. Fifteen delegates from seven authorities, including the librarian of the General Assembly Library, attended the conference and established the Libraries Association of New Zealand, whose membership would be open to 'any library not conducted for private profit which is serving a public purpose in the sense that it is used by the public with or without charge'. The association met again in 1911 and 1912, when it went into recess without having made much of a mark. There was, however, one paper at the first meeting which held seeds for the future. This was presented by Mark Cohen, a newspaperman who had led the movement to establish a public library in Dunedin, and who had suggested that the city council should take the initiative in calling the conference. His paper, reflecting his observations on a recent overseas trip, was called 'Travelling Libraries and How to Operate Them'.3 He took as his theme this introduction to a pamphlet on the working of the travelling library system in the American state of Iowa:

No thoughtful man can question that it is a supreme concern to provide for our people the best of the literature which inspires and builds character, and of the literature of knowledge which informs and builds up prosperity. This can be done effectively and economically only through free public libraries. A limited number of people can buy or hire their books, but experience has proved that unless knowledge is as free as air or water it is fearfully handicapped, and the State cannot afford to allow even the smallest obstacle to remain between any of its citizens and their desire for either inspiration or information.

Cohen then described the operation of travelling libraries which then operated in 25 American states, and those of South Australia, where the idea had been conceived nearly 50 years earlier. 'The underlying principle of the Travelling Library,' he said, 'is that the beneficent influence of wholesome literature shall extend to the four corners of the land – that it shall operate as does the national system of education – and shall be supported out of the funds of the State for exactly the same reason.' The government, which was urged to adopt Cohen's ideas, was unimpressed, but the paper is one which is as cogent and inspiring to this day as it was then; and other resolutions from the first three conferences of the Libraries Association, on children's libraries, on a library commission (to page 70organise the spread of library services), on a national library (to be based on the General Assembly Library), and on the free issue of books, were surprisingly ahead of their time.

The Libraries Association of New Zealand was revived in 1926, again on the initiative of the Dunedin City Council. By this time, three of the librarians of the four main cities, John Barr in Auckland, Ernest Bell in Christchurch, and W.B. McEwan in Dunedin, had been in office for 13 or more years. All of them had been trained in British public libraries, and Joseph Norrie, who took over the Wellington Public Library in 1928, had a similar background. These were the men who took New Zealand public libraries into the 1930s. McEwan was a remarkably good book man who left an excellent legacy for his successor,4 but in matters of long-term planning, even scheming, on a national scale, Barr stood out head and shoulders above the others, as Alley has said5 – despite his physical stature (a little under five feet). The General Assembly Library was represented at the 1926 conference by its librarian, Charles Wilson, and in 1928 and thereafter by his successor, G.H. (Guy) Scholefield.

In a far-ranging address at the 1926 conference of the Libraries Association, Barr drew attention to the virtual absence of library service to rural areas in New Zealand and described solutions which had been found to similar problems in various American states, in the United Kingdom, and in Australia. He suggested that the General Assembly Library should add to its responsibilities under the copyright law and take on other national functions, and added: 'If the character of the present Parliamentary Library could be altered … so as to become the National Library of New Zealand the organisation of a rural circulating library could be entrusted to it.'6 He enlarged on this suggestion, with details of ways and means, in another address at the 1930 conference, when he said: 'Everything that can be done to assist the people who live isolated lives to make their conditions better is a duty of the state; and the placing within their reach of good and useful books is one of the most immediate, most necessary and important duties which the state should undertake.'7

When the Carnegie Corporation came on the scene it was, as we have noted, concerned about rural education and rural library services, but its first actions were directed at academic libraries, probably because their problems were simpler. Russell was particularly critical of the state of the libraries in the university colleges and the teachers' training colleges. 'The independent status of College professors,' he said in his 1928 report, 'has led everywhere to the equal division of funds for books regardless of student needs or previous accessions. An allotment of £12 a year is the largest I have heard of, and usually it is less than half that amount.'8 Coffman, in commenting on the same point in 1931, said: 'The librarian buys the books page 71suggested by the Department heads, keeps a list of the accessions and of the books withdrawn. There is little time and less opportunity for performing the important services a university librarian is supposed to render. If the present practice continues for another decade, the University Colleges will awaken to discover that they have books but no library for many of the books purchased are really for textbook purposes.'9

Following Russell's report, the Carnegie Corporation concluded that assistance to college libraries should have a high priority in its programme for New Zealand, but it was concerned that its money should not disappear into an administrative void. Russell had emphasised the need to get New Zealanders to the United States for study and observation in several educational fields and to encourage their employers to treat them thereafter as professionals. In June 1931 each of the university colleges was offered the chance to send a library fellow to the University of Michigan for training, on condition that on return each one became librarian of his or her college with the rank of lecturer. Other conditions concerning library accommodation and the provision of adequate library staffing would, if met, lead to financial assistance for the college libraries for a limited period.10 In making the formal offer, Keppel said that 'the Corporation has turned its attention to the improvement of professional training for librarianship and to aiding in the work of extension and improvement of libraries … to raise standards of library work and professional morale rather than to bestow grants on individual libraries'.11

Three of the colleges took immediate advantage of this offer. Alice E. Minchin and H.G. Miller already held the posts of librarian at Auckland and Victoria respectively and were reported upon favourably by Coffman when he met them at the end of 1931. Canterbury appointed a recent classics graduate, Clifford W. Collins, who also joined the first expedition. Minchin and Collins both qualified for library degrees at Michigan; Miller observed and studied, but did not offer himself for examination. Otago was not able to take up the offer until 1934, when it appointed W. John Harris librarian-elect, and then sent him, with Carnegie approval, to the University of London School of Librarianship, since a report by the New Zealand commissioner of police (concerning Harris's political affiliations), which the Otago University council decided was grossly exaggerated when it decided to appoint him, had made it impossible for him to enter the United States.12

These four very different characters brought a youthful exuberance and strong professional standards into the small New Zealand library community of the 1930s. The emphasis of the Michigan school was strongly oriented towards service to library users. Harris's exposure to the bibliographical orientation of the London school added another dimension. page 72All four worked closely together and were also inclined to participate in library activities outside their own institutions.

To fill the temporary gap which arose from the delays at Otago, the corporation awarded another fellowship to Alister D. McIntosh, a young member of the staff of the General Assembly Library, who was strongly recommended by his librarian, Scholefield, and by Coffman.13 McIntosh studied at Michigan in 1932, but he also visited many libraries and talked to Carnegie officials in following up ideas which had been discussed at home both for the improvement of the existing services of the General Assembly Library and for extensions to its role. He established a very strong rapport with the Carnegie people, who quickly came to regard him as one who could advise them on New Zealand library matters. He was 26 at the time, a remarkable young man.

The Carnegie Corporation's programme of assistance to the university college libraries had arisen from Russell's visit in 1928. When Coffman made his visit towards the end of 1931, part of his brief was to assess ways in which the corporation could help in the public library field, though this was not openly heralded; indeed, Norrie in Wellington formed the opinion that Coffman was more interested in the work of the university libraries.14 Nevertheless, the public librarians and the Libraries Association executive then engaged in a round-robin correspondence to decide who should be put forward to receive a library fellowship with a public library focus.

While this correspondence was going on, Barr was offered a Carnegie fellowship.15 He was granted six months' leave by the Auckland City Council and left on his trip in August 1932. His colleagues were not very pleased, but, like others before them, they had misunderstood the workings of the Carnegie mind. Coffman had met the main public librarians and had reported that Barr was especially able, with a very close second in Norrie. He had recommended that one of them, probably Barr, should make a trip to America to study the activities of the American Library Association.16 Barr, for his part, had provided Coffman with copies of his 1926 conference papers,17 which of course indicated much wider interests, and these probably settled the matter in his favour. In any case, Norrie was not really as close to Barr in ability as Coffman thought. The others got their trips in due course – Bell in 1933, Norrie and A.G.W. Dunningham, who had succeeded McEwan in the Dunedin Public Library, in 1934 – but Barr was the one who joined McIntosh as a trusted source of advice to the Carnegie Corporation on New Zealand library matters.

Fairly early in the 1930s, therefore, there were stirrings in the New Zealand library world. These were stimulated by well-thought-out Carnegie assistance, but the important factor was that that assistance was being targeted at a small number of talented individuals. Their talents, in page 73turn, could easily be directed into long-term thinking and planning, since the whole system was on such a small scale that they could consider it as a whole without the distractions that are caused by large-scale problems of management; and the fact that they had been able to see what had been achieved in much larger systems enabled them to establish objectives to aim for.

Highly significant also was the appointment as Clerk of the House of Representatives in 1930 of T.D.H. Hall, a law graduate who had worked in the Department of Agriculture, and who was described later by Alley as 'urbane … careful, painstaking, thoroughgoing, meticulous … one of the civil servants of the Edwardian, perhaps early Georgian period'.18 As Clerk of the House, Hall was head of the Legislative Department, of which the General Assembly Library was a part, and he became a strong supporter of the ideas that Barr had put forward for the extension of that library's role as a national library, including the administration of a library service to rural areas. He also took an active interest, alongside Scholefield, in the affairs of the Libraries Association.

McIntosh was in the United States from May 1932. The primary purpose of his fellowship was to study ways of enhancing the services of the General Assembly Library, but he was well aware of the proposals that had been made for extending its role, and he paid attention to the operations of the Library of Congress and of various state libraries. In a report19 which he had discussed in draft with W.W. Bishop, head of the Michigan library school, and Carl H. Milam, secretary of the American Library Association,20 he recommended: (1) the amalgamation under one control of the General Assembly Library, the Alexander Turnbull Library, the national archives, and the library of the New Zealand Institute; (2) the development of three principal functions of the General Assembly Library: (a) parliamentary reference work, (b) the establishment of dominion historical research facilities and (c) co-operation with government scientific libraries to develop a dominion science library; (3) the institution of economies by co-operating with other libraries by the introduction of inter-library loan facilities; (4) recognition of the necessity for a trained staff, particularly in the event of amalgamation; (5) that 'the advice of the Carnegie Corporation should be sought in the setting up of a National Library Service'.

Milam, when he was asked to comment on an early draft of McIntosh's report, wrote: 'The national library must be made worthy to stand at the head of the system. That involves all those items which you have listed … and, in my opinion, some definite machinery for tying up the national library with the other libraries throughout the country, such as a central lending library department, for lending the unusual book; an advisory department, to aid in the development of regional libraries; and any other page 74special features, etc.'21 The italicised words were underlined by McIntosh when he received Milam's letter.

On the question of rural library service within a national system, McIntosh pointed out in his report that although, in Great Britain and the United States, the county had been found to be the best unit to base it on, New Zealand's counties were not suitable units of government: 'A solution is more likely to be reached by a new loose form of organisation – library districts based upon the co-operation of municipal, county and education units within a certain area.'

While he was drafting his report, McIntosh wrote to Barr to outline his ideas and check that they did not conflict with Barr's. 'But,' he wrote, 'for Heaven's sake and mine, don't let it be known in New Zealand that I am doing it. Dr. Scholefield might suddenly feel insulted and refuse to take any notice of it – I think he will if it does not look as if I am presuming to give him advice.'22 Alas, McIntosh was not tactful enough: Scholefield did feel insulted, and refused to pass the report on to the Clerk of the House; McIntosh did, however, make sure that Barr got a copy of it.

After his return from overseas, McIntosh was offered the position of city librarian in Dunedin, for which he was one among about 50 candidates. He declined it because, as he told Bell (according to Bell), 'Cabinet desired his services in order to re-organize the G.A. Library.'23 Barr reckoned that McIntosh had had his salary increased by about 100 per cent24 – this may or may not be true, but it is certain that someone in Wellington was very anxious that he should stay there; perhaps Hall also got an unauthorised copy of his report.

Dunningham was then appointed to Dunedin. About the same age as McIntosh, he had also been on the staff of the General Assembly Library, before moving to the Wellington Public Library some eight months earlier. McIntosh and Dunningham were and remained good friends, but they were very different characters: McIntosh the pragmatist who knew how to work within the system to achieve carefully planned aims and who could foresee the possible consequences of moves like a chess player; Dunningham the man of brilliant ideas who could transform an operation within a structured situation but who soared away on flights of fancy without such restraints – he could always see the roof on a building but needed someone to be there to put the walls up, his deputy said once.25 McIntosh remained the slightly cynical but very effective Wellington public servant, many of whose achievements remained strictly anonymous; Dunningham quickly took on the mantle of provincial and regional opposition to central power, a cause which he adopted with the eager enthusiasm of a convert to the faith.

When Barr visited the Carnegie offices in New York towards the end page 75of October 1932, president Keppel asked him whether he thought the first step in a corporation library programme for New Zealand might best take the form of a survey. It seems likely that this idea had already been discussed with McIntosh, since John Russell (James's son, who was now Keppel's personal assistant) wrote to tell McIntosh about the interview and to say that Barr had agreed.26 It was now up to Barr to organise a request from the Libraries Association of New Zealand. He had to wait while the secretaryship of the association was transferred to Bell, who turned out not to be the most dynamic of secretaries, but in August 1933, after clearing the proposal with his executive, Bell got Barr to draft an application,27 which he presented to the corporation when he visited its offices in New York later in the year. Since the corporation had already, in May 1933, set aside $US5000 for a survey of New Zealand libraries,28 its agreement was given fairly swiftly. Ralph Munn, director of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, was chosen to carry out surveys in New Zealand and Australia, and Barr was invited to join him for the New Zealand section of his assignment.29 The survey was done in April and May 1934 and its report was published by the Libraries Association, after being cleared by the corporation, in December.30

It is intriguing, sometimes, to compare a sequence of events as it emerges from the files with the way it is tidied up for public consumption. It is clear from the record that the survey was decided upon by the Carnegie Corporation itself and planned by it in consultation with Barr and McIntosh, but this is how the preliminaries were described in the foreword to the Munn–Barr report:

Through travel abroad and the study of foreign library reports, the members of the Libraries Association of New Zealand realized that library development in New Zealand has not kept pace with that in Great Britain, the United States, and other parts of the world. The Association therefore requested the Carnegie Corporation of New York to make a survey of all types of libraries in New Zealand, appraising their present activities and suggesting lines of improvement. This request was granted by the Carnegie Corporation.31

Munn and Barr sent a questionnaire to all public libraries and visited all cities of over 10,000 inhabitants except Nelson, all four university libraries, and a representative group of borough, school, and special libraries. They made special acknowledgement in their foreword to 'Mr T.D.H. Hall, Clerk of the House of Representatives, who gave his time so generously' and with whom they discussed his ideas for a plan for a national system of libraries.

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The scale of things in the 1930s is indicated by the fact that the largest public library, serving Auckland's population of 106,900, had a book stock of 171,321 volumes and a staff of 36. Christchurch (population 120,000) was served by 54,147 volumes and nine staff.32 The college libraries, the report said, 'do not even approach accepted overseas standards. … A staff of three, including the librarian, is the largest one found; at Canterbury the librarian has only student help.'33 One of the report's best-loved comments, remembered through the decades, was that 'The Canterbury College library building is a tiny architectural gem and an impossible library.'34

Although the report covered all kinds of libraries, its major recommendations concerned public library service, both municipal and rural, the need for a planned and integrated national library system, and the enhancement of the role and effectiveness of the Libraries Association.35

In the matter of public library service, the report focused on the inhibitions caused by the subscription system which operated in most boroughs (the most notable exception being Dunedin) and the inevitable inadequacy of libraries in small centres which could not afford to own a wide range of stock, as well as the plight of rural areas which were served, by and large, by small, independent or semi-independent local libraries or book groups.

The tone of the sections on public library service was set by a statement that 'More consideration should be given to the threefold function of libraries, namely the cultural, vocational and recreational.' The need for public libraries to provide service free of charge in all departments, including the lending divisions, was stressed; the consequence of the subscription system, with its inherent tendency to restrict membership, was that 'the public libraries do not fulfil the purpose for which they were originally formed, which was to provide every person with the means of self-development'.

That was a comment that applied particularly to municipalities, but there were additional problems in county areas, and even in the smaller municipalities. The surveyors had in mind the kind of local body organisation that existed in Britain and the United States, where counties were larger than in New Zealand and included county towns from which they were administered. It is fair to say that they were flummoxed by the New Zealand system, and their recommendations for making the best of it were confused and impractical. They included suggestions that the area of metropolitan systems should in some way be enlarged by co-operation between adjacent local authorities, and that for truly rural areas counties should join together to form larger library districts. Such districts might have library headquarters in appropriate towns, but these headquarters should be separate from the towns' own libraries. It was all to be achieved page 77by goodwill and voluntary co-operation, which was a vain and rather naïve hope, but it is difficult to see what sensible arrangement the surveyors could have suggested without raising the whole question of local body reform.

On the question of the separation of county libraries from urban services, Munn told Dunningham, who was then in the United States: 'It was on this point that Barr and I had our only serious difference of opinion, and I gave in to what was said to be necessary or at least expedient for New Zealand.'36 But there was in fact no possible sensible solution to be found along British or American lines. As a separate matter, the surveyors recommended that the subsidy for independent libraries in counties, which had been abolished a few years earlier, should be restored in the form of a service to such libraries, including a circulating book stock, organised from Wellington.

There was also a recommendation that regional groupings of libraries of all kinds should be formed for the purpose of handling such matters as inter-library loans and the recording of bibiographical information. This was part of a series of recommendations on a national library plan, an essential part of which would be the conversion of the General Assembly Library into a national library as an indispensable part of a total national system. The national library should also include the Alexander Turnbull Library, the national archives, and important scientific collections, and one department within it should hold a national lending collection and act as a clearing-house for inter-library loans between regional groupings. Another department would administer the new form of subsidy to rural libraries.

The Libraries Association of New Zealand had not impressed Coffman, who had said, 'There is, I find, a Dominion Library Association but it is very ineffective.'37 The Munn–Barr report urged the association 'to undertake a programme of work whereby the objects for which it was formed may be more speedily and effectively achieved', and suggested that such a programme should include the promotion of plans for improvements in library service, the establishment of professional education for librarians, and the enhancement of standards of librarianship.

In dealing with the WEA, the surveyors wrote: 'The Canterbury branch operates a bookmobile, or travelling library, which carries book supplies throughout its territory. This is an interesting experiment in rural library service which may provide valuable data in connection with a more general library service to country residents.'38

When the Munn–Barr report was about to be published, McIntosh wrote to Bell, saying: 'I cannot see how the Library Assoc at present can have a programme for conferences of a technical nature. These local body committee men who seem to constitute a full 50% of conference membership are a hopeless crowd – they treat it as a jaunt. Honestly, I can't page 78see any use in the Libraries Assoc. until it is reconstructed on the lines of the A.L.A., individual rather than institutional membership. … No doubt you have had some inkling of the Survey's findings and proposals yourself. Disappointing I must say but largely our fault I must admit.' Bell helpfully passed these comments on to Barr.39 McIntosh was probably justified in being critical of the Munn–Barr effort, in the light of his own contemplation of how the library system should develop, but it was at least a major event at the beginning of a major period of development.

At the beginning of 1935 McIntosh was transferred from the General Assembly Library to the Prime Minister's Department, where he became a sort of mini-brains trust for the prime minister, G.W. Forbes.40 This move coincided with a visit to New Zealand by the president of the Carnegie Corporation, F.P. Keppel, who was visiting the southern dominions to assess the effect of the corporation's work in the past few years. Keppel was taken aback, but McIntosh had perceived his situation in the General Assembly Library to be less than promising in the face of Scholefield's annoyance at his presumption in reporting as he had done after holding his Carnegie fellowship,41 and in his new position he hoped to be able to work more closely with Hall in following up the Munn–Barr recommendations.

In his confidential report to the trustees of the Carnegie Corporation, Keppel said: 'With regard to the public library movement, it is my belief that it would be wise to let the Munn reports be digested for a time in each Dominion before the Corporation follows them by any specific grants. Meanwhile, we should concentrate upon the training of promising people and support by modest grants the professional interests of a few competent leaders.'42 After discussing post-Munn–Barr needs with McIntosh, he invited Barr to convene an ad hoc group to follow up the Munn–Barr report generally, but with the specific task of preparing a detailed plan for a district rural library demonstration similar to the one which had been carried out in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia. The essence of the scheme would be to demonstrate an ideal country library service for which the corporation would provide initial finance, and he hoped that, if the demonstration proved successful, the government would provide the financial support necessary to start similar district libraries elsewhere in New Zealand.43

In addition to Barr, the membership of the Carnegie Library Group, as it came to be known, consisted of the other three main city librarians (Norrie, Bell, and Dunningham), Hall, and McIntosh. The corporation provided funds to cover its expenses, and its meetings were held in Hall's office. The membership was chosen with some degree of political acumen, but Dunningham maintained, looking back later, that the two who had the trust of the Carnegie Corporation were Hall and McIntosh.44

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In March 1935 the Libraries Association held its first conference since 1930. It had before it a revised constitution which had been drafted by Hall at the request of a committee set up in June 1934, and which provided for individuals to be admitted to full membership with voting powers and the right to hold office. This change in the constitution, which was approved in principle by the conference and approved by the association's council later in the year, was very important because it turned the association into an organisation which could reflect the views of those librarians who had been gaining experience and developing ideas during the previous few years, many of whom were in the full flush of youthful exuberance. In order to reflect the association's new character, its name was changed to The New Zealand Library Association. The honorary secretaryship was taken by Norrie, and, more importantly, C.S. (Stuart) Perry, a law graduate who was Norrie's deputy, became the honorary assistant secretary. Perry was particularly capable in formulating policies in a time of change and in presenting them logically. He was an invaluable support to Norrie.

One of McIntosh's responsibilities in the Prime Minister's Department was to prepare statements of government policy which lay in the twilight zone between informing the public and preparing for the election which was due, after two postponements, in November 1935. In writing to John Russell at the Carnegie Corporation in April 1935, McIntosh said that he and Hall were mainly concerned with the setting up of a rural library service which would ultimately develop into a National Library Service: 'The scheme we are putting up is one which will depend mainly on the support of the general Government and it is essential for the success of the scheme to have the Government's understanding and sympathy'.45

Hall raised the matter of a National Library Service with Forbes, whom he found very sympathetic to the idea of including it in the government's programme,46 and in consultation with Dunningham, who was working out schemes for the implementation of the Munn–Barr recommendations, he and McIntosh prepared proposals for the prime minister's endorsement. Forbes also asked Scholefield, who had departed on a Carnegie fellowship in March 1935, to report on the question of rural library service and to put forward proposals which would be appropriate for New Zealand.

The result of this work was that the government issued, in October 1935, its memorandum no.34, 'The Government's National Library Service', a four-page statement which began by saying: 'It is the Government's intention to organise a National Library Service with a view to assisting small country libraries and to provide facilities for districts which have no libraries.' Features of the proposal included a national central lending library for the distribution of books on a nationwide scale; loans of books of about 50 volumes, changed several times a year, to each library qualified page 80to get the old subsidy; loans to libraries or groups to be free of charge provided that they were lent to individual borrowers free of charge; and, promised for later, a much more comprehensive scheme including the establishment of a number of regional depository libraries which would operate travelling libraries as part of their service. 'Details of this ultimate stage are being worked out,' it said. Hall told Barr that Forbes 'was keen to make the statement prior to the election manifesto so as to indicate that it was a matter of considered policy and not merely an election promise'.47

Memorandum no.34, slight as it was, capped a pretty good year for the New Zealand library world following the publication of the Munn–Barr report. But it did not save the government, which was swept out of office on 27 November 1935. The people had had enough of the failed policies of the past and the prospect of a fairly minimal National Library Service in the future was not enough to stay their hands.