Autumn on Lake Audobon

Autumn on Lake Audobon
Autumn on Lake Audubon, Photo by Alison Kamat

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Books Every Library Should Have? Annoyed Librarian, Library Journal, January 19, 2015

The subject post has created a very active dialogue on what should be in a library's collection and how long.  We provide an excerpt from the post and this link to it where you can read and contribute your own comments. 
Concerned citizens in Fairfax County, VA are protesting as librarians rapidly shrink the book collection. Here are some numbers from the article:
The library’s total collection has decreased from around 2.75 million items in 2004 to 2.4 million items in 2013, a drop of about 350,000 books, magazines and online materials, even as Fairfax added two new branches and electronic items to its system. The number of printed items, mostly books, has dropped by about 440,000 in that time, replaced by about 100,000 online items and e-books. If a book hasn’t been checked out for two years, Fairfax library officials review it for possible elimination in order to keep the collection fresh…
440,000 books gone, which even with the addition of “online items and e-books” still means a cut of 340,000 titles. The children’s sections seem to be the worst:
The number of children’s books in Fairfax’s 22 branches has also plummeted, particularly outraging the activists. The library had about 1 million children’s books in 2004 and about 885,000 in 2013, an 11 percent cut. Shelves in the children’s areas of some of the county’s largest libraries, such as Reston and Fairfax City, are notably empty.
I’ve criticized various groups of protesters for expecting libraries to keep everything, even with finite space, but when the shelves are going empty, space isn’t finite. Empty shelves don’t look good in a library.
Do most public libraries weed books that haven’t circulated for more than two years regardless of the book? That policy seems a little draconian to me, if something can be just a little draconian. The rationale is provided by the director:
“We’re not an archive,” Clay said. “We want to keep a vibrant, helpful, responsive collection. It’s part of what librarians do.”
So if any books that haven’t circulated for a mere two years are in a library with plenty of shelf space, that means the library is an archive? Seems questionable to me. . . .
Click here and read the rest--and offer your own observation on the post and the state of Fairfax County's public library system.

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