Differ’nt Strokes For Differ’nt Folks

The last library I was at was much larger than the one I’m at now.  It was also an academic library, so the patron base was much different.  That being said, no matter what the size or target audience is, all libraries have to work to maintain their collections.

Libraries are not book museums.  They don’t store all books ever printed.  Limited space and limited budgets mean that which books make it into a library is a hard decision–one that is usually given a lot of thought.  Outdated books or books that are out of scope and never used need to be replaced for books that will be more beneficial to the visitors using the library.  Many people gasp at the thought that libraries might get rid of books, but it’s a fact of life.  Just think about medical or computer books.  Books from just five or ten years ago wouldn’t be useful to people studying the subject anymore.  That’s why we get rid of those titles in exchange for the most current information.

My current library is in the middle of weeding the collection and updating the books.  They were struggling on one particular title because the librarian weeding couldn’t bear to part with it.  At my previous library, each book was examined for several criteria.

1.  Is it relevant to the community using the facility? 

2.  Is it so old that it is now public domain and probably available on Google Books?

3.  Do many other libraries carry the title?

4.  Has it been checked out recently?

5. Does the book physically need to be replaced due to damage?

6.  Are there multiple copies?

7.  Is it valuable?

The theory was if you could answer yes to questions 2 and 3 and no to question 4, it was safe to get rid of the book to free up space for something more relevant.  If a patron did need to use the title, there were still other avenues for them to easily access it.  I suggested this tactic to my current librarians, and they interpreted it differently.  If no other library carried the book, it probably wasn’t that great of a book to begin with.

Doh!

The title in question had never been checked out since it was added to the collection over twenty years ago.  It was kept.

Parting with literature is not easy for book lovers.

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