Monday, August 13, 2012

Public Libraries for Learning or Entertainment...

Now I'm in the Mood for some Tacos...
The library branch that I work at, was recently remodeled.  Besides all the, "Wow, it looks so much better," comments, I have also received several comments about the current state of the collection compared to the previous branch's.

Some comments echo one of the biggest arguments about public library collections: "What happened to all of the nonfiction books?  The older library used to have a lot of good reference and research items, now it's all this best seller fiction crap."  "Why aren't there more copies of (so-and-so  title of the latest NYT fiction best seller)?" or "Why doesn't the library have more blockbuster movies on DVD?"

I am a "gamer,"  I have an Xbox 360 and a Wii, I built a custom PC which could handle modern games but I doubt that I even use 1/10th of its potential.  I say gamer in quotes because I don't play everyday nor do I spend hours gaming when I do.  And I will be one of the first people to question whether public libraries should carry video games.  Video games are damn expensive and what are the main motives for libraries to carry them?  Fluff up the door count and circ stats, so that when it comes time to hammer out next year's budget the library can plead its case about how many people plodded their way into the libraries and how many times the latest abomination of 'Modern Warfare' was checked out.

On the flip side, patrons who come in expecting the library to have 'The North American Council of Professional Development for Sub-Saharan Lawn Mower Manufacturers' and getting upset that we don't have it are asking just a bit too much.  The public library does have a good coverage of nonfiction and scholarly materials and subject matter, but constrained budgets be damned, they cannot obtain everything on everything.  There's nothing more the public library wants than to get more people coming in by carrying items people want.  Sometimes patrons will pull the tax-payer card: "my money pays for these books, it should carry the books I want."  Yeah, yeah, play that fiddle -- I technically pay part of my own paycheck.

The Library isn't perfect, and they do try their best, but when you're dealing with the public, you cannot please everyone.  And despite all the patron bitching about the library's collection, the current collection is the same as before the renovation, if not there being a little more materials in every genre with all the new shelving.  I guess it really all depends on if you view the shelves as half full or half empty.

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