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Unit Libraries

Unit Libraries

Boredom is one of the most common evils in the Army and the biggest enemy of morale. It is a problem that will grow as popular education spreads. One solution is reading, but that depends upon page 46 an adequate supply of books. Some commanders made grants from Regimental Funds for unit libraries; others refused to do this and the chaplains had to use their allowances, their own money, and make a collection among the men. They would then go off to Cairo, Alexandria, or Beirut, where they would spend say £50 on some two or three hundred books. These would form the foundation of a unit lending library, often with a different box for each company.

Wastage in books was heavy: paper-backed books, unless reinforced, had a short life, while many were not returned or came to a grimy end in the bottom of some truck. And yet, allowing for this wastage, which often necessitated two or three libraries being bought in a year, the books were worth every penny spent on them. It was difficult to get them in sufficient quantity and variety, but once they were bought they were read continuously; and even when they were not returned officially they were still being passed from hand to hand. In Syria the unit library idea was comparatively new, and a grant from Regimental Funds was seldom forthcoming.