Sunday, April 07, 2019 1:00 am
Letters to the editor
Letters related to the May 7 primary election must be received by noon on April 29 to be considered for publication.
Library's weeding discards the long view
I'd like to compliment the Allen County Public Library Board and staff for holding a public meeting regarding its policy of weeding books. I agree with Ben Eisbart that it was a beginning and will hopefully lead to much greater transparency and embracing of community concerns. I applaud the library for its forward-thinking programs and community engagement.
I can think of only one good reason for getting rid of the last copy of any book – lack of space. That isn't the problem, as pictures of empty shelves demonstrate.
The idea that a book becomes useless if no one checks it out for some period of time is to misunderstand the reason libraries exist. To put it simply, a library is a repository of our culture. To assert that a lack of current demand is reason to weed out a book ignores the possibility of that very book someday being needed for research, or because of the resurgence of an author's reputation, or renewed interest in a topic.
To let a librarian, let alone an impersonal algorithm approach, decide which books to keep or throw out is to rely on personal preference in what is a very important decision. What's worse is to have such an arbitrary rule as “10 years of no checkout and the book's out.” We're not talking about tossing out a sweater you haven't worn in years, but a physical container of knowledge, information, pleasure or enlightenment.
I have a large library of far more books than I will ever get around to reading. I consider it a treasure beyond measure to have at my fingertips a book I bought 40 years ago and only today decide I'm ready to read. That's what our library is for every man, woman and child in this city. If the library truly is discarding the last copies it owns of any book, it is undermining a community asset of immense value and a legacy it holds in trust for all present and future readers.
ACPL meeting leaves questions unanswered
I attended the March 27 library forum, in which the trustees attempted to answer questions regarding issues that have been brought to light on policies on discarding material.
It is clear to me that the board did not perform its due diligence when presented with recommendations to change policies that previously served to enhance the Allen County Public Library collection and thereby its reputation as a leader in its field. Or was the director hired for the purpose of making policy changes? This question needs to be answered.
One of the most disturbing changes is in the last-copy policy procedure. Keeping the last copy needs to be policy. If all libraries in the interloan system had the same procedure, what would be the strength of the network?
Using a computer program to recommend material to be discarded with little or no oversight and review by the professional librarians is, in my view, unconscionable. Was the board aware and did it approve of this practice?
It was revealed in written material that ACPL is now purchasing patrons' credit information to compile demographic information. Questions about how that personal information will be used and whether patrons will be told about this new procedure were not addressed.
It is an additional benefit to the community for its library buildings to have meeting rooms available. But, it is not the primary function of a library to be a community center. Is it really the intention of this board to turn our library into a popular materials and meeting house?
The duty of a library is to preserve history for current and future generations. What has already been lost cannot be replaced. The concern is that this board will review policy and procedures that obviously are not in the best interest of the ACPL and its patrons.
A fitting tribute
Poor little Puerto Rico.
Maybe he could cut a deal to build a (paper towel) tower on the island paradise.
And so it goes.