Re: Where have all the good books gone? (News, May 30)
While I appreciate that Mr. Palmer called me and interviewed me for 20 minutes, the article does not reflect or even mention the detailed concerns I expressed and so I find it somewhat disappointing. It just gives the library’s pat and not really accurate answers.
The books that are gone are not floating. They no longer appear in the catalogue. I know how to use the catalogue and how to place a hold. That is not the issue. The books are gone.
And with the paperback section removed, and replaced with largely empty tables, the paperbacks are now in amongst the hardback fiction. And so the fact that those shelves are half to one-third empty means that there are a lot of fiction books gone.
I do not understand why the goal of the librarians, the custodians of our literature, our culture, would be to manage empty shelves, but that seems to be the case. I was told in the interview with Mr. Palmer that the librarian said that some books are disposed of if they are worn or have not been checked out for two years. For me a two-year standard is simply short-sighted.
I am a browser. I walk by the shelves and look at the books. One day a few years ago, I went in looking for Jessamine West’s The Friendly Persuasion.
It tells the story of a Quaker family during the U.S. civil war and shows an alternative way of life. It is thin. At this point you could fit hundreds of copies on the shelves. The library did not have it. I was told that it was probably worn and tossed out. So I bought one and gave it to the library. Today – it is not there nor in the catalogue.
Again, we no longer have this fine book available to readers here. (If you would like to read it, you can borrow my personal copy.) Many years ago while browsing, I found a series called Strangers and Brothers by C.P. Snow.
I found it a wonderful work of fiction about a life in politics in Great Britian throughout the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s.
I recently wanted to revisit the series, but it is gone and out of print. I was invited to do an interlibrary loan and that is a nice thing. But if I were browsing today, I would never find it to even know I might want to read it.
And interlibrary loans, it turns out, are complicated and not convenient in any way.
Meanwhile, our shelves sit empty not because books are “floating” but because they are gone.
Barbara Pedrick Blied,