Ok Public (if you are out there) — What do YOU think should be kept in libraries?

I do not know how many non-librarians read my blog (or even how many librarians), but I was thinking recently about more collaborative approaches to weeding books in public libraries.

The current paradigm for weeding items is to do it gingerly and not let the public really know that we do it. There is good reason for this — weeding, if put out in the public without context can end up being blown waaaay out of proportion.

But weeding is necessary and done mostly because of damage, inoperability (a DVD gets scratched up), relevance (people have no use for a World Book from 1982 thank you!) and plain lack of use. Storing books that carry little or no value is expensive, and gets in the way of the stuff that people want.

That said, I do think some things are sacred. Some books should remain on public libraries shelves even if they never circulate.

So, I have a question for the online world and I think all libraries should take the time to ask their communities the same thing:

What books/films/music/whatever do you think should never be weeded off a library’s shelf?

To be more specific, here is what you are saying to librarians everywhere:

  1. If this book gets old or damaged, you should replace it immediately.
  2. If the book goes out of print, you should spend lots of money to keep it in good condition.
  3. If a powerful lobby group thinks this book is offensive, you should go to the guillotine before weeding the item (and I’ll go with you).
  4. I don’t care if the book never gets borrowed.

I’m going to start with comments here. If thing pick up, I will move the list somewhere else where they can be rated etc.. Eventually, I will post the list for the benefit of libraries everywhere.

PS.   This blog is now at over 12,000 views.   My expectation was that 10,000 views would have occurred within a year of its existance (that would be July).   Wow.  Just wow. 


Why You Should Fall to Your Knees and Worship a Five-Weeks Librarian

Hey you! . . . Yeah, you!

I’m going to tell you what I think you should do right now. Then I’m going to tell you why you should do it.

What you should do:

Find the email address of one of the following librarians:

  1. Dorothea Salo
  2. Meredith Farkas
  3. Amanda Etches-Johnson
  4. Elyssa Kroski
  5. Michelle Boule
  6. Karen Coombs
  7. Tom Peters
  8. Heather Yager

and drop an Amazon or other convenient gift certificate their way.

Why Should You Do It?

Especially if you are a techie librarian, they did you a biiiiiiiiiiiiiiig favor at great expense to themselves and for no pay. I’m not going to rah-rah about how important social software is, or how they are leading the charge to a “new” library world (though they are). I am simply interested in the fact that they put their blood, sweat and tears into something that brings amazing value to the library community at large. What did they do precisely?

They started the Five weeks to a Social Library program. Ok. Let’s assume that the course was mediocre for now, and begin with some Mathematics.

Meredith says that she spent 8-14 hours per week of her time during the 5 weeks. Then another 3-5 per week during the planning stages. Let’s go with the small numbers, under the assumption that, as chair, Meredith spent more than the average 5-weeker. 8 * 5 is 40. 24 * 3 is 75 for a grand total of 115 hours per person. Let’s pay them each $20 an hour. $2230 of their time put out into the library community — for your benefit.

Ok ok ok. So you read a previous post of mine that said very specifically, that you should not measure staff time with a straight dollar-for-hour value judgement. Well, I won’t get into why you are wrong even technically, but let’s start costing out the value to the library community that this project has put out there. You can argue with my numbers, but you cannot argue with the overall value.

  1. Value of upgrading the skills of the 30(+) librarians in a geographic scope at 1.5 credit hours (let’s say $400 for a 1/2 credit course). $12,000
  2. Value of 30(+) pre-established service plans and proposals, with wise consultant feedback and support (let’s say $1000 for a month’s consultant fees). $30,000
  3. Value of journal entries, research notes, transcripts, ideas, and whatnot developed within the social software site (let’s say $100 for every person that will read that site in the next year or so). $ [Just about unmeasurable].
  4. Add an extra $50 workshop fee just for the stuff I learned on the site.

Now let’s look at the reality of the course, and understand that by no means was the project “mediocre.” Amanda ended up a “mover and a shaker.” Great feedback abounds. People out there are exposing their senior management to these ideas and tools in ways that are sustainable and exciting. And here are some more numbers then:

  1. The value of one more person in my town to demonstrate how much of a “no brainer” some of these things are: priceless.
  2. The value of a community of people who have joined the theoretical ranks of Librarian 2.0s: priceless.
  3. The value of sharing an infrastructure that can be used for a wide range of learning projects: priceless.
  4. The value of just a handful of library leaders chomping at the bit to organize their own “5 weeks” project: priceless.

This stuff is truely making libraries everywhere better. Making our libraries better means making our work lives better. We are wanted and desired in the community. People want to pay taxes to sustain our salaries. This stuff is money, health, love and happiness going directly into the pockets of librarians everywhere.

Then we can talk about what money, health, love and happiness spin-offs result from having our users experience great libraries.

I think each one of these guys should have their in-boxes spammed with gift certs. It’s the least the library community can do.