Laurie Muller’s reported comments on the obligations (sic) of libraries and librarians, and the state of Australian publishing (ABR, December 1985–Jan 1986) must surely invite some responses!
I think it would be fair to say that school as well as public librarians who are responsible for book selection are more than aware of the works of Australian authors. Personally, as a librarian in charge of a private secondary school library, I make a conscious effort, using the ABR as well as other selection aids, to buy Australian works, both fiction and non-fiction. But surely Laurie Muller and Mark Rubbo are aware that there are many factors involved in book selection. These include relevance (especially for school libraries), acceptability, currency of the material, and cost, of course. The comments allegedly made by Muller about libraries ‘having to buy just one copy of every Australian book published’ is neither practical nor realistic! Those of us responsible for managing book budgets have to apportion our resources very carefully, being mindful of the factors referred to above, plus others unique to one’s institution. Criteria for book selection can and always will be debated – and are debated and discussed by professional librarians. But, speaking personally, my users’ needs must always come first.