I stopped by my local branch of the St. Mary’s County Public Library yesterday to return a few books, CDs and DVDs. What should have been a quick in-and-out turned into me lingering over the paperback book sale cart and coming back with this:
That’s right. The librarians weeded out the romance section!!!!! WUT WUT!!!
As a librarian I know that libraries (especially public libraries) can’t hold ALL OF THE BOOKS ALL OF THE TIME. That means librarians have to make tough choices about what they keep and what they weed, or remove from the collection. There’s very rarely a magic formula for what stays and what goes, but it’s usually some combination of
- The physical condition of the book (some copies just get plain worn out, especially mass market paperbacks)
- Their circulation statistics (How often are people borrowing the book? How in demand are they?)
- Whether or not a different version of the book would better serve the public (Are ebooks or hardcovers in greater demand?)
- The content of the book (Is no one interested in this anymore? Is it out of date or inaccurate? i.e. Computer how-to manuals from 1997.)
Libraries have limited space and their staff have to do the best with the shelves they have. Despite certain communities causing a ruckus over mass book weeding efforts, I think we can all understand that a library is not an infinite-room archive and it is not a museum. I like to think of it as an organic creature shaped by its community’s needs and wants.
And sometimes, these organic creatures poop out books. Lots of books. ROMANCE BOOKS.
So the next time you stop by your public library and see a bunch of books for sale with spines that look like these X-marked babies, thank your librarian for a) keeping the collection TIGHT and b) letting you buy 10 paperbacks for $1.