Archibald MacLeish, in 1944 during his tenure as Librarian of Congress, stresses both the importance and the challenge of rebuilding libraries destroyed after World War II. But how to rebuild?

Money alone will not suffice. The materials which will be needed to restore ruined libraries are not for sale. No publisher publishes them. No bookseller has them in stock. They exist only in other libraries, and it is only through the co-operation and collaboration of other libraries that they can be made available.

Only if the principal librarians of the world could agree upon the proposition that they hold their materials as trustees, not for the faculties of their universities, not for the student bodies of their colleges, not for the citizens of their towns, not even for the citizens of their nations, but for the entire generation of living men, and only if their acceptance of that proposition could be implemented by the known, tried, and tested methods of interlibrary loan over international boundaries, would it be possible in my opinion to solve the problem. (150)

Works Cited

  • MacLeish, Archibald. “The Library and the Nation.” Books and Libraries in Wartime. Chicago: U of Chicago P. 1945. Print.