Liberating the Reference Collection

Rick Roche writes:

We are breaking with our past at Thomas Ford. One thing that you could always count on was that the reference books were here on the shelves. As good as that was in the past, the problem now is that the reference books are here on the shelves, but no one is here using them. They are just sitting. So we are liberating them. We’re going to let them out to anyone with a card, just like other books, magazines, CDs, and DVDs.

The primary objection I have heard is “What if a book from a set doesn’t return, isn’t the set ruined?” This is a possibility, maybe even a probability in time. Still having books sit idle seems a greater sorrow in a public library focused on current utility and not archival conservation. I think the greater good will be served by this service. I look froward to seeing some smiles when I let someone take a volume of Contemporary Literary Criticism or The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

I’m continually impressed by this library’s focus on making its services and resources as convenient and useful as possible.

2 thoughts on “Liberating the Reference Collection”

  1. I think a lot of libraries are looking into various scenarios involving reference books, whether to circulate some or all, whether to weed some or all. With so much information available either on the open web or through proprietary databases, having all those big books on the shelves may not be necessary anymore.

  2. Of course you can get both the Gale Brown Books and the Grove Dictionary of Music online so I don’t know how many more customers he’s going to get for the print editions whether he lends them out or not.

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