Booked til Tuesday

Life, Law & Libros

Discussion: Library Books Gather Dust

7 comments
I had an interesting conversation with my librarians this week. My library has a wall of shelves filled with new arrivals, cover out, displayed according to genre. I was just curious about whether the new books got checked out often, but it led to some talk.

I learned/confirmed three important facts about my library:
  1. Sci-fi and fantasy don't get checked out much. (They get one section on the new books wall compared to two to four for other adult genres.)
  2. The majority of patrons are there for the computers.
  3. No one goes into the shelves behind the computers to look for books.

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That last point is the one that interested me. I more or less guessed the first two, but I was surprised to hear everyone limited their book browsing to the one wall of new books displayed cover-out. The librarian said one patron had even called all the other shelves "the archives."

So even when people like a book from the new shelves, they no longer hunt for other books in the series or by the same author. They don't browse the shelves filled with hundreds of book spines - just the handful of shelves featuring the latest Amazon bestsellers. As a kid who did (and still does) spend hours perusing the shelves, tucked away from all the busyness in a quiet, book filled corner of the world, itching to discover a new story, this makes me sad. :(

Have you noticed any similar trends at your libraries? I kind of hope it's just the area I'm in, but my optimism is waning.

And wow, that was depressing. So, check back tomorrow for a much lighter Top 10 Tuesday post about book-related stuff on my wishlist!

7 comments :

  1. I haven't seen this trend at my local library, surprisingly. It may be the way my library is laid out - floor plan, I think, can have everything to do with it - but all the shelves get a fairly equal amount of attention - except the magazines. Kids are always eager to find what else their new favorite author has written, as are the adults. I hope this isn't a trend that spreads, because it would be very sad indeed.

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    1. The right floor plan can definitely help, but I'm thinking the area I'm in may, unfortunately, just not be big on reading. :(

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  2. This is such an interesting discussion! I actually saw a post about things going extinct in 10 years and one of them was Librarians bc so much is digitalized these days. I'm all over my library, and was even more before I started getting arcs. And I think overall my library is pretty well used - often books I want are on hold. But I don't know about the broader collection as you mention here. It makes me sad to think of no one reading all of these books :(.

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    1. What will happen with librarians is they will become more and more informational techies and less and less book people. It's part of the reason I got out of pursuing Library Sciences as a career.

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    2. It is definitely a sad thought. But I like to think, like any cultural trend, it can reverse at some point. :)

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  3. I have hope for my library since the YA section has lots of sci-fi and fantasy and it is a generally well-lit and welcoming area. I suspect at least in that section, older books still get discovered :). But now I feel the need to go walk through the adult sci-fi and fantasy archives!

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    1. YA seems to be a bit of an outlier. At least, I know I've seen teens investigating that section. Here's hoping they carry that habit to the other shelves as they get older!

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