'Send your books on active service' : the books for troops scheme during the Second World War, 1939-1945

Archie L. Dick


During the Second World War, the South African Library Association coordinated the Books for Troops Scheme that distributed thousands of books and magazines to soldiers in the Union Defence Force. The scheme presented the chance to demonstrate the democratic values of books and libraries, and to improve the social standing of the library profession. This article argues that personal squabbles, regional tensions, racialism and the regulation of reading by the Army Education Services prevented the South African Library Association from making a more forceful impact on the South African public.


Army Education Service; Books for Troops; Second World War; South African Library Association; Union Defence Force.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7553/71-2-611


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ISSN 2304-8263 (online); ISSN 0256-8861 (print)
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