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Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Bit of an Outcry on Library Purges

The Wall Street Journal's response to the Fairfax County Public Library (VA) method of determinating which books to discard: "libraries should seek to shore up the culture against the eroding force of trends..."

and "The particulars of this task will fall upon the shoulders of individual librarians, who should welcome the opportunity to discriminate between the good and the bad, the timeless and the ephemeral, as librarians traditionally have done. They ought to regard themselves as not just experts in the arcane ways of the Dewey Decimal System, but as teachers, advisers and guardians of an intellectual inheritance,"

and "The alternative is for them to morph into clerks who fill their shelves with whatever their "customers" want, much as stock boys at grocery stores do. Both libraries and the public, however, would be ill-served by such a Faustian bargain." Go, Wall Street Journal!

Thanks to Jill of My Individual Take (On The Subject) for the link to Library Stuff which discusses the WSJ article and also provides a link to The American Spectator which questions the Fairfax County Library's use of circulation numbers in discarding books.

"Other selections expunged from various branch libraries are Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, and Virgil's The Aeneid.

Among the more contemporary authors excluded from some libraries are the likes of Kate Millett, Jack Kerouac, and Maya Angelou."

Now, that is downright scary, don't you think? To discard the above books to make room for John Grisham, David Baldacci, James Patterson, Nelson DeMille, and Stephen King... Not that I haven't enjoyed books by these authors, but they are not in the same class as many books that are being purged.


  1. Thanks for the link to WSJ's response. I've no doubt this is how I've come across such great books at my annual library book sale. What I see happening at my library quite a lot is that they'll order 10-12 copies of the latest John Grisham, Janet Evanovich, etc. but seem to forget about small press authors, world literature, etc. I have nothing against these popular authors, as I read my fair share of them, but it seems a bit sad that we have to continue making more room for all of these at the cost of some real gems.

  2. That is my main concern as well, that the shelves would be stocked with multiple copies of Harry Potter and Beatrix Potter would be relegated to the bin.