Copyright The Malta Historical Society, 2005.

Source: Melita Historica. [Malta Historical Society]. 7(1977)2(196-197)

Malta Library Association Yearbook 1975 & 1977; respectively, Veritas Press, 31 pp., 50c, and Union Press, 43 pp., 70c.

The first volume contains the fifth and sixth annual reports by the then chairmen J. Montalto and A. F. Sapienza, respectively. There is also a useful and updated directory of libraries in Malta, compiled by Lillian Sceberras. Here is the entry regarding the Royal Malta Library, now the Malta National Library: "36 Old Treasury Street, Valletta; 26585 [telephone no.]; 1555 [year when library was established]; P [Public, National Library]; 335,000 [stock in no. of volumes]; 0, 1, 2, 3, 33, 34... [areas of interest], Melitensia, Archive Collection, Rare books and binding; 1st October to 15th June Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays: 8.15 to 5.45 (i hour lunch break), Saturdays:8.15 to 1.15, 16th June to 30th September: [p.197] 8.15 to 1.15 (except Wednesdays); Vincent A. Depasquale B.A., LL.D. [librarian]". According to the same article the Malta University Library has 125,000 books, the Belt is-Sebħ Public Lending Library has 60,000, the MCAST Library 13,000, the College of Education Library (now at MCAST) has 16,000, the British Council Library 19,620, the Istituto Italiano di Cultura 2000, the USIS Library 800, the Gozo Public Library 61,000, the Victoria Boys' Secondary School Library 10,000.

The 1977 Yearbook carries the seventh and eight annual reports by the MLA chairman Paul Xuereb, and articles by Trevor Zahra on "Books for Children in Maltese" and Victor Fenech on "The production of children's books with special reference to Malta". These both make very interesting reading. Fenech's is particularly to the point.

"It is the first time in our history that a body of librarians with the minimum of resources has kept up the pressure for a better deal in bringing the book to the people". So writes the editor, Fr A. Sapienza, in the foreword to the latest issue of the journal. The 60-odd members of the Association have actually done quite a lot to enhance the prestige and efficiency of their profession. They have set up sub-committees, published papers and yearbooks, established contacts with Library associations overseas, promoted the award of scholarships in Librarianship, organised the National Book Week since 1975, held in-service courses for teacher-librarians, created an esprit de corps among themselves. We all appreciate their effort, and hope to see more efficient libraries (the recent appointment of school librarians is a very welcome development) and better-stocked bookshops functioning in our midst. Even today there is no real substitute for the printed word as a tool for the dissemination of ideas. A survey of Maltese children's (and adults') reading habits, as suggested by Mr T. Zahra in the above-mentioned article, would be extremely useful.

G. Mangion