Editorial RE: Public Library Use

Be sure to read this editorial on collection development and selction practices from Steve Decker. Libraries need to address every patron\'s needs, whether they shop at WalMart or Lord and Taylor

Public Libraries: Where Designer Store meets Department Store


When we decide the library has the resources and space to develop a collection of music there will be those that will tell us that we need the classics–we need to honor and expand the minds of the public by presenting to them \"good\" music.
The Library\'s job is to \"offer.\" We have Shakespeare and Steinbeck but we also have Steel and Sheldon.
Oh, there are always matters of selection to be addressed. Let us address them together for the betterment of our public libraries.

Be sure to read on....

Like most of us I have more wants than needs and I often get my wants and needs confused. But one way I\'ve learned to balance my wants, as well as those of my wife and children, is to shop in places where I can afford the merchandise. I\'m often found wandering the isles of the local department stores with a basket full of \"stuff\" that I want and/or need.

During the last Christmas season while at one of these stores I met someone I knew and was immediately apologized to for seeing this person in the store, \"I\'m sorry you had to see me here.\" I could not help but wonder \"why?\" After all, I was there, face to face, in the same store.

The fact is, Wal Mart had $165 billion in sales last year while Saks grossed $40 million. Wal-Mart stock began the year at about $39 and peaked during the year at over $70. It is well below that peak now but the trend has generally been up this year. Saks began the year at about $38 and bottomed out at under $11. Though it is slightly above that now the trend has been down.

This is not investment advice! Do not run out and say, \"That Decker guy told me to buy Wal-Mart stock–it was in print, I read it.\" It is observation: There are more department store people than designer store people.

When we decide the library has the resources and space to develop a collection of music there will be those, believe me, that will tell us that we need the classics–we need to honor and expand the minds of the public by presenting to them \"good\" music. That is correct and classical, baroque, and whale sounds should be part of our collection. Just stop before you get to the follow-up statement of, \"If they want the other ‘trash\' they will have to find it somewhere else.\"


The Library\'s job is to \"offer.\" We have Shakespeare and Steinbeck but we also have Steel and Sheldon. Who do you think gets read the most?

During a recent television interview, the commentator and I remarked on why reading might decline as one gets older. Sometimes it is simply a function of time. We spend so much time making a living and caring for the necessities, going to soccer games, attending school functions or seeing to the needs of the community or church to which we belong, we just run out of time. Other reasons might be a function of attitude. School teachers want to introduce their students to \"real literature.\" Some of this may be mandated by certain core curricula, but when I was introduced to these materials, which should remain nameless because I would not want to bias anyone against The Good Earth, I wanted nothing to do with the good stuff.

Now hold on–I am not saying that teachers should not do what they do! They should open the door to traditionally respected literature. But hey students, that does not close the door to the other things that are out there. I know a teacher who felt degraded when a person as bright and intelligent as she, checked out romance novels from a local library. She later told me something like, \"I spend my life keeping up on new events, new happenings. Sometimes I need some escapist reading and this is what I chose.\"


Some of my children went, with their grandparents, to Yuma, Az. recently. Why? To see an old jail that Louis L\'Amour wrote about in one of his western novels. Why? Because that is what they wanted to do.


Libraries are places where the \"classics\" (whatever they are) and the contemporaries sit on the same shelving under the same heating, cooling and lighting systems like keys on a keyboard–white and black together. Each can play beautifully under the right touch and most have place in our society, even the sharps and the flats. Oh, there are always matters of selection to be addressed. Let us address them together for the betterment of our public libraries. \"

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