My friend Barbara and I were talking recently about the state of our local public libraries. (This is the same friend with whom I have long conversations about hot grammar topics.)
She was bemoaning the fact that, on a recent trip to the library, she couldn’t find a book she had borrowed years ago from that same library and wanted to reread. It was one of Linda Ellerbee’s autobiographical works.
“They have the first one and the third one, but not the one in between,” Barbara harrumphed.
She even tried track it down in the wider county library system but couldn’t find it.
“Where do all those books go?” she asked.
That’s a great question. Librarians have to constantly rotate their literary stock. Think of all those new books being published each day. Many library patrons want to read the latest and greatest, which means old books have to move out to make room.
How do librarians choose which books stay and which go? I’d imagine circulation numbers play a huge role in the decision. If someone hasn’t read the book in a while, why keep it? That doesn’t mean that it isn’t a great book, though.
There may be some other cabalistic librarian mumbo-jumbo that plays a part in that choice. Yet you can bet your bottom dollar that those books on their way out of the stacks don’t just get thrown into the trash. (I swoon at the thought!) They often find refuge in bibliophiles’ private collections.
I often worry about all those ebooks floating around out there. The sheer volume of books being produced electronically is mind boggling. I often picture obscure ebooks huddled in the corner of my Kindle.
Although we may worry about those books that are no longer popular enough to stay on library shelves, we can still find them with some concerted digging. They are not dead; they’ve just faded away.
Let’s give a shout-out to Linda Ellerbee, one of my journalistic heroines!