Left: Graphic by Aaron Louie.
From Mountain Xpress, here is Ileana Grams-Moog, discussing an ongoing, national issue--the continuous, rapid depletion of public library collections. She is describing the process in Asheville (NC) but it could just as easily have been anywhere:
From my time working as a librarian, I know that all libraries cull their collections on an ongoing basis. But what’s happening now is apparently a permanent downsizing. Nor is it only fiction that is disappearing. Science, history, biography, psychology, cooking, gardening, crafts: Every area is being depleted. Many—indeed, most—of the books being sold are out of print and therefore not easily available elsewhere, if at all. This is especially deplorable in areas where old books contain information not available in new ones. In cooking, gardening, crafts, yoga, poetry, history and even in science, in fields such as animal behavior and paleontology, old books contain detailed, lively information that’s no longer covered in more recent ones. To get rid of these books is the equivalent of deliberate, collective amnesia.The other issue is storing the books, if they are not discarded. The public appears willing to pay for libraries, but not usually willing to spend tax money to build warehouses for old books that no longer circulate. (What's to become of the thousands of old, dated books, if indeed they are kept?) There are thousands of volumes discarded every year, everywhere. Most municipalities have periodic book-sales, and if you have ever been to one of these, you know some really fantastic, unique books are culled from local collections, constantly.
I was told that the criterion used is how recently the book last circulated. I just bought, for $2, a book that I took out about a year ago (and that cost the library more than $30 when acquired).
And what about the user-atmosphere of the libraries themselves? In larger cities (and increasingly, in small ones, too) homeless people sleep in libraries during the day, use the restrooms, panhandle when security guards aren't looking, etc. Have Borders and Barnes & Noble become the new 'library'--as educated, suburban readers prefer not to deal with the riff-raff that is the general public?
For an entertaining and informative take on the library biz, check out Blogging Librarian.
And I can only add, with considerable vehemence, SAVE THE LIBRARIES!!!!!!
Listening to: The Volebeats - Radio Flyer