Why books are disappearing from downtown Victoria’s Central library branch

Victoria resident complains of less fiction choice at downtown library, one curious (but temporary) result of new 'floating' book collection

Many fiction books from the Greater Victoria Public Library's Central branch are ending up at suburban branches after the library implemented its floating collection last year. The library is working to keep downtown shelves stocked to expected levels.

Many fiction books from the Greater Victoria Public Library's Central branch are ending up at suburban branches after the library implemented its floating collection last year. The library is working to keep downtown shelves stocked to expected levels.

Thinning book shelves at the Greater Victoria Public Library’s central branch are worrying some avid readers, but librarians say the shifting collections are simply the result of a new book return system.

Victoria resident Barbara Pedrick said many of her favourite fiction novels – from Jane Austin to Anthony Trollope – began disappearing about a year ago from the library at 735 Broughton St.

“Even the librarians have noticed there are a lot of empty shelves, they’ve told me that,” said Pedrick, who sent a letter to Victoria council suggesting councillors look into the issue. “The books are just disappearing.”

Pedrick also expressed concern that books are being discarded without proper oversight or consideration, a claim that librarians say is completely unfounded.

“Anything that involves books can be emotional, but personally and professionally, I wouldn’t allow books to be thrown out and removing books at all is not something we do lightly,” said Rina Hadziev, collections co-ordinator at the Greater Victoria Public Library.

The central branch’s fluctuating shelves, she said, are the result of a new floating collection system implemented last year at various branches.

The program allows library users to return books to any Capital Region branch, and the receiving branch then adds that book to its collection.

“Before, if a book were returned elsewhere, we’d send it back to the original library. But that was proving onerous and we were shuttling them all around the region in a truck,” she said.

One of the curious outcomes of the floating collection is that heavily used libraries like central branch are seeing far less fiction returns, Hadziev added.

(Photo inset: Barbara Pedrick)

Barbara Pedrick

More than likely, downtown workers are checking out books during the week at central branch and returning those books to suburban branches on the weekends.

“A lot of people who work downtown are returning their book to Oak Bay or Nellie McClung,” Hadziev said.

The criteria for permanently removing and adding library books is exhaustive: considerations include cultural relevance, condition, accuracy and when it was last checked out.

“It would be highly inappropriate to apply a blanket criteria to removing our books,” she said. “There are other areas of the collection where not having been checked out isn’t really a factor.”

Books about spousal or sexual assault and medical texts are rarely checked out but often read in-library, whereas a children’s book about Pluto being a planet would likely be removed and recycled.

“We do feel some responsibility to not be putting out information that’s completely wrong, particularly when it comes to children’s books,” she said.

To remedy the thinning collection at central branch, Hadziev and her team are now shipping some popular books back to the library. While the process still requires some fine-tuning, Hadziev said frequent library users like Pedrick should notice an improvement in fiction selection today compared to a few months ago.

“Maintaining a collection is like maintaining a garden, it’s a living thing,” Hadziev said. “It’s part art, part science. … We have the second-highest circulation rate in Canada, which means we have holes for a reason, but we take our stewardship role very seriously.”

DID YOU KNOW?

The Greater Victoria Public Library allows users to suggest new titles for the collection anytime. Check it out here, or call 250-382-7241.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

New changes are being proposed to four streets in James Bay to allow better access for cyclists. Residents have until June 11 to provide feedback. (Black Press Media file photo)
New revisions to James Bay bike lanes open for feedback

Routes on Government and Montreal streets planned for 2022

An elderly man having a medical emergency in Mount Douglas Park on May 13 was rescued by firefighters and paramedics with the help of ATVs. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Rescue team uses ATVs get man in medical distress out of Saanich park and to hospital

Cedarhill Road closed as firefighters, paramedics rescue man in Mount Douglas Park

While recovering several items reported stolen from the set of a Netflix movie in early April, West Shore RCMP also seized drugs and drug trafficking items from a Colwood residence last week. (Black Press Media file photo)
Electronics, credit cards taken from Neflix set found in Colwood home

West Shore RCMP seize stolen items, drugs, trafficking materials

Saanich police used a drone to investigate a fatal crash in the 5200-block of West Saanich Road on Feb. 4, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Police determine speed, impairment not factors in fatal West Saanich Road crash

Driver who died veered across center line into oncoming traffic for unknown reason, police say

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 11

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Canada’s demo Hornet soars over the Strait of Georgia near Comox. The F-18 demo team is returning to the Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Sgt. Robert Bottrill/DND
F-18 flight demo team returning to Vancouver Island for spring training

The team will be in the Comox Valley area from May 16 to 24

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Bow-legged bear returns to Ladysmith, has an appointment with the vet

Brown Drive Park closed as conservation officers search for her after she returned from relocation

Most Read