Why are librarians so often told by journalists that they are failing society in some manner or other? Every librarian I know is beleaguered, and struggling mightily to manage increasing demands with shrinking budgets. I read David Shribman’s January 6 column on a bad day and it rubbed me the wrong way. So I decided to write a letter-to-the-editor for the first time in my life. It was published the following week. Here it is:
Dear Mr Shribman,
I am writing in response to your column entitled â€œLibrariesâ€™ Cuts Pander to our Taste for Fast Foods.â€ in the Conway Daily Sun, Saturday, January 6, 2007.
I am the library director of a public library in a small rural town in Northern New Hampshire. We have on our shelves 8 of the 11 Classics you name by title in your column, and this in a collection of 20,000 titles and a town of 2500. We take collection development very seriously, and we strive to balance our collection between classics and bestsellers, old and new. We donâ€™t consider discarding a title unless it hasnâ€™t circulated for five years. We want to keep as many of the classics, especially candidates for juvenile summer reading lists, as we can; however we donâ€™t want to keep books on the shelf that no one wants to read.
In this age of the Internet and e-mail, libraries provide interlibrary loan resources efficiently. When I was a college student in the â€˜80s, I waited as long as 3-4 months for interlibrary loans. Sometimes by the time I received the materials I needed, the class I needed them for was long over. Now, through interlibrary loan we can put a requested book that is not in our own collection in the patronâ€™s hands within a few days. Itâ€™s not as quick as fast food, but good and reliable service on a small budget is worth waiting for.
Jay Rancourt, Library Director