Right now, every library is being faced with a severe budget crisis. While I work in the private sector, I’ve been immune to much of the hardship because our funds do not come from taxes. However, we do struggle with the same mentality that we do not deserve what we get because we don’t make money. Our materials and space are a money waster and not a money maker and therefore, over the last few years, we have (like so many other libraries) been subjected to severe scrutiny about what we keep and why. In the last week, that effort has been intensified.
I work in an environment that serves seasoned staff and fresh out of school newbies. The technological divide is immense. But we’re hitting a tipping point where the number of users who are comfortable doing online research out number those who don’t. While we would love to cater to all of our users, management is telling us we need to make huge steps to change. Subsequently, most of our material is being removed from the shelves in favor of online resources.
I’ll be up front. This change NEEDED to happen. We had things on our shelves from 1947 that are available online in their entirety. In essence, we’ve been paying for many materials twice (in both print and online forms) as well as a third cost of housing them. I’m a big proponent of online resources and probably one of the biggest embracers of this change. But it’s even shaken me up.
I’ve removed seven barrels like the above photo in the last four days. It’s… disheartening at best. I’m a purist when it comes to books. I have held off on an e-reader for so long because I love having a tangible book in my hand. But I’ll admit this extends mostly to fiction. I long ago adopted online resources when it comes to reference and research material. Searching databases, pulling articles and verifying facts are infinitely easier with the advent of technology. 95 percent of the material we’re disposing of is this type of material.
Logically, I know this is a good move. But my little book-loving librarian heart has trouble with it.