Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Books, books everywhere...

Interesting article in The Washington Post about the conflict between libraries keeping books that no-one seems to want because they're great books and keeping books that everyone wants to read because they're popular.

It's a delicate balance to maintain with limited space and limited resources. It's also a chicken and egg situation - do people not want to read The Mayor of Casterbridge because they don't see it promoted to them, or is it not promoted to them because no-one wanted to read it anyway?

Libraries should be braver in what they promote - it's easy to get people to read the latest Harry Potter or Richard & Judy title and we don't have the same demands on our shelf space as retail, where every face out position has a price tag attached.

Is the library a cultural repository or a supplier of entertainment?

I think it should be both. To be fair, the libraries in question state that the books are available in the county, just not in multiple copies across all libraries. Surely this enhances the range available and makes better use of resource funds?

Reminds me of the famous Will Self "wall to wall pulp" comments and surrounding debate that plagued Waterstones a few years ago, although I don't see as many authors weighing in as they did then. I wonder why (£££?)

What do you think?

4 comments:

Paige Turner said...

"To be fair, the libraries in question state that the books are available in the county, just not in multiple copies across all libraries. Surely this enhances the range available and makes better use of resource funds?"

And yes, as it happens

http://tinkertytonk.blogspot.com/2007/01/libraries-much-ado-about-nothing.html

Paige

Jeff Morgan said...

Libraries should be about keeping the classics, they should be about preserving the nations' literary heritage.

Have you seen Tim Coate's blog? It's http://www.goodlibraryguide.com/blog/

Anonymous said...

Well your libraries haven't even got Faulkner's "Sound and the Fury", or anythign by Gertrude Stein in any of your branches!

Anonymous said...

It would be a shame if public libraries adopted the supermarket approach to fiction - give them what they want etc... Public libraries should be helping and assisting the public in their reading choices and this requires collections with depth. Lets not lose one of out stengths for short term popularity. There needs to be balance.