Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Libraries

From: Jess Nevins (
Date: 18 Jun 2001

Kevin Burton Smith wrote:

> But how many of you do take out books from the library? I find
> there's very little in the way of hard-boiled at my local library,
> though sometimes there's a surprise or two. And they're usually quite
> good at taking suggestions on what to order.

It bears repeating: if we (public libraries) don't have what you want, tell us what to get. Generally speaking we get very little input from the public, so what we have to go on is circulation statistics, reviews in professional journals, and our own judgment, as professional librarians, about what to get.

So if someone pulls me aside and says, "Have you heard of this guy called Newton Thornburg?" I will attempt to find out who he is and what he's written. (Nice intro, btw, Mr. Pelecanos) And if someone *writes a letter*...well, that's the sort of effort that makes librarians hop to and go out of our way to please the letter writer. When what we hear is mostly silence, even the smallest voice gets our attention. Plus, a lot of Selection Committees (the people who in a lot of libraries approve or disapprove of which books are actually purchased) are filled with librarians who have their own peculiar literary biases. But no librarian, however biased against a genre, will ignore a letter. It would be bad public service--and that's our role, after all.


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