Iowa City Public Library
>>> Mike Tribby <firstname.lastname@example.org> 12/09/99 03:43PM >>>
Another sad fact that I suspect leads many public libraries to acquire
lowest common denominator feature titles before more expensive videos is
that in many places, the public library's success or failure is judged
solely or mostly by circulation figures. Guess what--more people will
check out the latest Bruce Willis dross or mindless kid-romp than even a
gorgeous print of Sunrise. One of my library school professors was an
ardent proponent of "marketing" one's collection and proving success by
pointing to circulation figures.
Quality Books Inc.
At 12:58 PM 12/9/99 -0800, you wrote:
>Thanks! Academics need a hard kick in the butt sometimes to wake them up
>in their ivory towers.
>On the other hand:
>While I'm certain hard realities often enter into the selection process
>(and probably rightfully so), I guess my concern is the degree to which
>such factors seem to drive public library collection development and
>collection policy. The argument that you can buy 10 bland, mass-market
>wonders, or 10 pop-schlock movie titles for the price of one expensive but
>astoundly great independently-produced work is pure sophistry, in my book.
>Similarly, making collection decisions based largely on the fear of what
>mischief your patrons might do, or based on a fear of pissing off
>miscreants with a high replacement bill seems more than a little cynical to
>I guess it all boils down to the question of what the mission of the
>library is and why we bother building collections at all. Are we pandering
>to what we perceive as the public's insatiable appetite for quick,
>pop-culture fixes; are we trying to build diverse collections for a diverse
>clientele, to support the production of diverse content...are we trying to
>balance all of this.
>If low cost, mass market entertainment is where we've finally come to
>rest--because of budget, or crisis of faith, or whatever--I think we might
>as well hand over the keys to Blockbuster and Barnes & Noble.
>At 12:26 PM 12/09/1999 -0800, you wrote:
>>Brace yourself for a home truth Gary, any public librarian who doesn't
>>include consideration of the "rip-off factor" when purchasing high dollar
>>material (of any format) either has a huge and unending budget (Ha!) or
>>hasn't been buying material very long, In most cases it is not a major
>>factor, but it is a factor. I worked in a branch library that opened the
>>building with 187 copies of the newest GED test guide; at the end of that
>>year there was one left that we could find, the others were MIA. This
>>sort of thing does go into calulating how much you can spend on what and
>>how often you can afford to replace it. Very few public libraries in
>>this state have any legal recourse to theft problems. The best most
>>muncipalities will allow is misdemeanor offenses and the state
>>legislature refuses to enact any legislation that will help enforcement,
>>even for major collection thefts. Reality 101: to buy wonderful stuff to
>>enlighten and amaze, you have to have funds aren't 90% dedicated to
>>replacing what goes missing. It's a nasty crunch sometimes.
>>Northeast Texas Library System
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>Media Resources Center
>UC Berkeley 94720-6000
>"Everything wants to become television" (James Ulmer -- Teletheory)