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Re: [ARSCLIST] Interesting WSJ Article on when libraries should discard their holdings.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Steve Ramm" <Stevramm@xxxxxxx>
> Since there are many Music Librarians on this list, I though this article in
> today's Wall St. Journal might be of interest. The subject is what books a
> library should retain if they haven't been checked out in two years. If you
> change the word "book" to "Sound recordings" it really hits home. Having seen
> some major libraries give away or dispose of their 78 rpm collection to build
> new theater or - in the case of Temple Univ. in Philadelphia - a new Student
> Union, this raises some interesting questions. I'm not prompting a
> discussion here; just sharing. Also, this might be of interest to those on
> newsgroup (of which I'm not a mrember, so someone may want to forward). (BTW,
> heard MLA was meeting here in Philly last week. Wish I knew!).
> ALSO< please note that this article is Copyrighted by Dow Jones & Co, Enjoy
> Steve Ramm
> Should Libraries' Target Audience Be
> Cheapskates With Mass-Market Tastes?
> By JOHN J. MILLER
> January 3, 2007; Page D9
> "For Whom the Bell Tolls" may be one of Ernest Hemingway's best-known books,
> but it isn't exactly flying off the shelves in northern Virginia these days.
> Precisely nobody has checked out a copy from the Fairfax County Public
> Library system in the past two years, according to a front-page story in
> yesterday's Washington Post.
1) IF a public, non-profit library elects to limit its accessible holding
to only the most popular volumes among its clientele (as this article
suggests!) then it suddenly finds itself in direct competition with
profit-making operations in the "bookselling" business...and, as such,
its justification for appropriate exemptions from copyright laws covering
its activity becomes much less clear...!!
2) When I visit a library, I am generally in search of books which are
NOT readily available elsewhere...reference works, history volumes (often
local or area-based) and the like. In fact, at the Toronto Reference
Library I can access (copies of) a virtually complete set of Toronto
city directories, as well as many others from communities in the area.
Note that these are ONLY accessible for use in the institution and
CANNOT be borrowed for use elsewhere. As well, I'm likely to be in
search of works on other more esoteric fields (where I often do not
know titles or author identities) for various personal research
projects I'm attempting. Needless to say, books in the latter
category are NOT widely circulated!
Our local (Oshawa, Ont'o.) public library owns, and circulates (I
assume) a copy of Goderich & Dixon...probably because a previous
employee was a noted collector of blues 78's. I'm torn between
being afraid they MIGHT discard it due to non-use, in which case
I lose access to it (I don't currently own a copy)...and HOPING
they discard it and I can acquire it for a dollar or two!
In any case, I view a library...ANY library...as by its own nature
a repository for information needed or wanted by its users...as well
as other information when/if not readily accessible elsewhere. Thus,
there must (in theory, anyway) exist somewhere a "MASTER" library
whose function is only to retain and make accessible ALL the information
(or as close as possible) relating to a defined district and every event
that eventuated therein. I realize, of course, this isn't possible
or even practical...but, still and all, it is annoying (to me, anyway)
to discover that a given piece of information was NEVER recorded...
anywhere in the known universe! I may be the only party who gives
a whatever about what happened to the Grey Gull Record Company
after late September, 1930...but it is frustrating to realize
that data may no longer exist in any accessible/recoverable form!
Somehow, this seems to fall back on my "Law Of Information"...
"Ninety-nine per-cent of any mass of stored information will never
again be accessed by any user(s) whatsoever...and its preservation
has thus been a waste of effort and resources..."
Corrolary I: "It is impossible by any means currently known to
man to identify this 99%, thus enabling us to identify and preserve
the 1% that will be of subsequent value!"
Steven C. Barr