Friday, August 17, 2007

weeding in an inhospitable climate

Every once in a while weeding can begin to feel like the chore that it is. Like when it's extremely hot. And when you have inherited the collection of an old-fashioned, Luddite librarian who believed that your small library branch should serve the function of an archival branch (or maybe she didn't really believe that but she Did Not believe in weeding, this i know.)
(once when i was out bar-hopping with roommates and one of them was wondering what librarians did (with all their copious free time) and i mentioned weeding she thought i said reading and she was shocked that i would have to spend time at work reading and my other roommate corrected her~i mean can you imagine a librarian...Reading? and she actually was shocked, and a little horrified as well, i believe...)
We are part of a large library system. We are a small branch. There is only so much room. Books can easily be brought in from other branches. Even out of print books can be brought in from Somewhere through ILL (yes, i am one of THOSE librarians~if only i could weed my personal book collection as easily...) But i really don't like old ugly, dirty, used, soppy books~and yes there does seem to be a question begging here, but not by me (unless of course it is one of my favorites, one of those books i think Everyone should read~but of course Those books aren't ugly~Or i'll invest in a pretty edition.)
I remember when i was a teenager i discovered one of my absolutely favorite books at my local library, First Person, Singular by Vida Demas. And i had to keep going back to check to make sure it was still on the shelf, because somehow, i intuitively knew those books would sometimes suffer some mysterious demise (which it eventually did.) With the advent of the internet used book search, i eventually, years later acquired my own copy, but was so sad to see the library's copy go...
So i've been weeding lately, all those books on computers from the early 1990s and the like (and i'm also having nightmares about the old library manager coming into the library and demanding to know where all Her books have gone~actually i think it's a sign i might have gone a bit overboard~the shelves are looking a little more empty and i'm feeling a little insecure) I also discovered Will Manley's Unsolicited Advice published in 1992. For those who may not know Will Manley (pictured above~a picture i've always found just a bit...interesting, by the by), he is a rather ubiquitous presence in library land and i have always found his columns rather humorous so i thought i might check out his book and at least give it a circ stat before deciding what to do with it (though some may call this inflating statistics, i can't very well take it home without checking it out now can i?)
Anyway, i didn't find the book quite as insightful or as entertaining as his columns. I have to wonder if it's twenty-first century sensibilities imposing themselves on the rather stuffy-seeming sensibilities of the turn of the century or its just me (i can be a bit radical...although i am very much in support of a graduate degree for professional librarians~and not just because of the debt i incurred obtaining mine {i also think we should be state certified and there should be testing standards...gasp} i did not know what Festschriften was until Manley defined it~must have been daydreaming in library school that day~tho i never did that~so maybe my, very excellent, library school neglected that subject {more gasping}...) I also found myself wondering if his letters were really sent to him or created by him so he could compose his own witty answers. Or perhaps i'm just cranky...

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