Thursday, June 3, 2010

Confessions of a Librarian

As I have mentioned before, my job consists primarily of ordering and cataloging the new materials for my library. In addition to this, I'm also responsible for doing the majority of deselection or weeding as it is known in the library world. My confession is this: I enjoy weeding as much, if not more, than ordering the new books. Gasp! I love, love, love unpacking the new books when they come in, but the actual ordering process can be rather tedious. Weeding on the other hand consists of me spending large spans of times happily exploring the stacks, analyzing the collection, and pulling the outdated or damaged books from the shelves.
We have a small library and have no room currently to expand the bookshelves. This means in order to make room for the new stuff I have to get rid of the old and outdated. Many librarians hate to weed, which is not something I understand. I get that some people love books so much that the thought of getting rid of one is hard for them, but books with inaccurate information or offensive terminology don't help anyone. And in my opinion, having a bunch of outdated books on a topic is the same as not having anything. They won't go out and your patrons will think that your whole collection is outdated.
It is possible that the reason I so enjoy weeding is that my library was not weeded for years prior to my employment so I find all sorts of interesting and almost comical content loitering on our shelves. But then again, I loved weeding at the public library too, but that was primarily because of how shabby and sometime down right nasty the books could get. I bring all of this up because I recently came across the following book: I Try to Behave Myself: Peg Bracken's Etiquette Book. It has a copyright date of 1963 and is hysterically funny. This is because it does not stick to the main points of etiquette but includes chapters on how to get rid of guests when the evening is over, and when not to have sex.
Here's a quote from the back of the book:
"No man who calls his wife 'Mother' or 'Fats' all day can justifiably expect a bonfire that night--or has Henry Fielding put it, 'a warm partaker of the genial bed.'"
Now, if I worked in a public library I might consider keeping this, despite the fact that it has not gone out once in ten years. However, since I work in an academic library an outdated, albeit comedic, etiquette book doesn't have a place here. But fear not, I ponied up the book sale price of $1.00 for a hardback and have taken it home with me.