Saturday, September 1, 2007

just for you, Dwight

In my often early morning blog ramblings I've apparently failed to explain exactly what my 'relationship' with the library and the bookstore means. So, Dwight, here is the Reader's Digest version of my on/off relationship with my town's public library.

On a total lark, after being employed as a full time mommy for 13 years, I applied for a job at our local library. Well known to the staff as my youngest's mommy (I don't have a name, I'm just so and so's mother) I was given an interview at 5:00 and hired the next morning at 10:00. I became the part time YA library associate. In that capacity, I did everything from collection development to YA programs. I started their Teen Advisory Board. I wrote the library newsletters, press releases and did all sorts of public relations stuff for them.

After two years, my hubby's job began to require a good bit of traveling and while we'd been able to juggle our two jobs and the kids' activities, it started to wear on us. The library was as flexible with me as they could be, but at a certain point something had to give. My job gave.

When the president of the Friends of the Library learned I was leaving my paid job, she strong armed me into becoming a "Friend." Then she body slammed me into taking on the management of their brand new used bookstore. All that from an over 60 retired school teacher. Don't ever mess with retired teachers....

The Friends raise money for the library via used book sales. All the items they sell are donated from our community. Currently, they hold two big sales and two mini sales a year. A big sale can bring in 7-9K. The funds are given back to the library to support our Summer Reading Program, pay for professional staff development and things like that.

With the bookstore opening next month , the Friends hope to provide a steady income stream for the library. I've been busy writing our policy and procedures manual, coordinating publicity and getting ready to train our volunteers.

There you have the library staff says, I still work for the library, I just don't get paid anymore.


A Paperback Writer said...

The Salt Lake City Public Library has a semi-annual book sale that is well-publicized and well-attended, but having an actual bookstore -- well, that's something!
That's great. Keep us updated on how it goes.

Dwight said...

Okay, so the Library buys books with public funds, keeps them for a little while, and then sells them back to the public for the profit of the Library? Which in turn allows them to buy more books to sell back to the public?

I'm pretty sure that if you were a congressman, you'd could get 4 years in the crowbar hotel for that kind of Ponzi scheme.

Just kidding. But I have this twisted concept of Libraries as archival entities. As in, "Oh that book is out of print? Okay, I'll go get it from the library!"

But of course, Libraries also have limited shelf space. I guess they can run a report to see which books haven't been checked out in three years.

Still. This makes the wannabe author in me melacholy. Nothing is eternal except love and honey.

I'm working with a personal literary hero of mine, a guy who wrote THE book of my youth, a book that won a lot of awards in it's day but is out of print now. I wrote him about putting together a wikipedia page for him and he was damn near bereft because somebody still remembered him.

I was sure his books would still be in our county library system.

They weren't.

"And when you die, and everyone who ever knew you has died, it will be as if you never lived."
- Grandpa Wannabe

Liz said...

Dwight, the vast majority of the books sold by the Friends via the store or the book sales are donations from the community. All donations are sorted first by library staff and they pull the best of the best to add into the collection. The Friends get dibs on what is left.

However, librarians do have to do what is called 'weeding.' For the most part, we weeded books that were really worn out and nasty (think smelly or with gross spaghetti stains on pages) or in the case of nonfiction, so out of date that the information wasn't accurate.

Weeding is done on a rotating schedule and yes, we would check to see the number of times the books circulated before we removed them from the collection. If a book was highly circulated and in poor condition, we tried to order a replacement.

Sometimes, but not often, we would remove a title that couldn't be replaced. That too would make us sad. However, a book can be repaired only so many times before it just can't be glued or taped together any longer.

A good library has a collection that is in good condition. Books in bad shape just don't get checked out. I've seen the stats.

Space, of course, is always a consideration as is technology. Shortly before I left, I withdrew a bunch of YA books on cassette tapes. None of them had been checked out in two years. I replaced them with books on CD, they go out like hotcakes, especially around vacation times.

It is always a give and take....hope you don't feel like I've been preaching.

I won't even touch the public funding issue...not when our library staff, who are required ot have degrees, are paid less than the town's crossing guards. No lie!

A Paperback Writer said...

Yes, Liz, that's what our library does too.
Dwight, I think university libraries are still archival, but a public library can't afford to be.
And I think it's only honey that is eternal.....