State Library of Florida Closes Stacks

Susan Dillinger writes "From the Tallahassee Democrat: "No browsing is the new rule as of today for the State Library's circulating collection. Closing the stacks of the circulating collection, and making its 350,000 books and other materials accessible only through librarians, will help
boost usage, said Judith Ring, Florida's director of library and information services."

Plans for this were mentioned earlier, as part of the continuing brew-ha-ha over Governor Bush's failed proposal to move the collection to Fort Lauderdale. I can see closed stacks discouraging theft, but am dubious about the director's belief that it increases usage.


Oh, the joys of stacks. Children of Florida will not know the joys of browsing and invetigating...Serendipity. Some of the best books I've found by chance, not through searching an online (or card) catalog. I can't imagine that usage will go up, but it's a good political statement. When we go back to visit we will most certainly browse the stacks again.I remember some of the fun stacks at Purdue (as an undergrad). Some were really packed and fun to browse through. The chemistry library had a great one, same with the main library. One of the first places I smooched my girlfriend/now wife. We were studying up there, really.It's such an important part of having fun at the library. Next thing you know, we won't be allowed to touch the books. Someone else will do it for you to preserve the pages. Usage will probably go up in that case as well.

I suppose it's just possible that circulation figures might go up, since you'd have to check out a book just to look at it. Now, anything that anyone wants to look up will show up in the circ. figures; whereas before, books that were only browsed were (probably) not counted.

This is not to say that actual usage will go up. I agree with those who are skeptical about this. It is a barrier to the public to have to ask for everything they want to look at. So I think real usage will go down, but a higher percentage of usage will get counted as circulation.

FWIW, the California State Library has closed stacks for most of its material. There's some great stuff there, but it's not easy to use.

One of the first places I smooched my girlfriend/now wife. We were studying up there, really.

Studying what? Joy of Sensual Massage? :-)

I've gotten some of my best reading by browsing the stacks. Wrong-wing Big Brother baiter that I am, I can't help but think that requiring people to ask for books and have them signed out makes it easier for Big Brother to spy on your reading habits. If I was a conspiracy theorist I'd allow as to how it figures this this is happening in a Bush controlled state. But I'm sure that's reading too much into it. If Georgie-porgie is anything to go by Bubba Jeb is closing the stacks because he doesn't read either and doesn't know the joy of it.

Warning - off-topic coming in:> Studying what? Joy of Sensual Massage? :-)I recall that I was taking a graduate biochemistry course, and she was working on physical chemistry. Hicks Undergraduate Library (, yep, that was a hangout. Or the Mellon Library of Chemistry (, true love blossomed. It's tough to remember...I was dizzy with love. You'd could say the stacks led us to a happy 9+year marriage (so far).I'd agree with you that a conspiracy could be made of it all, but no need to name call our President or his brother.Remember, the only goverment officials that have a long-lasting effect are Supreme Court members....ooops, back to the President again.

Well obviously statistics are much more important than users finding information. *grrr*

As a browser, I really dislike the idea of needing to ask for everything. It is nice that the books are protected from vandals in closed stacks, the problem is they are also protected from seredipitous discovery. It's nice that things that are used get counted, but not at the price of less use overall.

It reminds me of the information I was given when trying to find out why the library science books got moved to the miserable compact storage at the university I went to for grad school. They told me because they weren't used as much. Everything else they moved downstairs were essentially dead collections--ours was the only active one. Unfortunately they didn't bother considering that library science students are just a wee bit more likely to reshelve books they are looking at than your average college user. Made me want to leave piles of books everywhere.

Then there is the whole privacy issue involved if they force users to request books individually...depending on what information they ask for before getting the books, it could be stifling to some researchers. Hmmm...given the regime in Florida, this could be deliberate actually.

It's nice that things that are used get counted, but not at the price of less use overall.

I agree. I was only pointing out that the statistics might appear to show an increase in usage, when it was only an increase in circulation. Real usage is more important.

>>I can't help but think that requiring people to ask for books and have them signed out makes it easier for Big Brother to spy on your reading habits....Well you are right on the money on this one. It is easier for the Big Bush Brothers to spy when the privilege of checking out materials is extended to ALL taxpayers of their respective states.Those lucky folks in Ted and Hillary's states won't need to fret on this one.(Florida SL)New borrowers are issued a library card upon presentation of appropriate identification and proof of Florida residency.(Texas SL)Other Texas residents (16 or older) must register in person with photo identification.(New York SL)Permanent New York State government employees are eligible for borrowing. Applicants will need to provide proof of status, e.g. an agency ID or a current pay stub.(Massachusetts SL)All permanent Legislative and Executive employees of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are eligible for a library card.>>I've gotten some of my best reading by browsing the stacksAnd "only" if you were visiting NY or Mass.Boosh bashin' ain't always so eesy.

With the recent controversy in Florida, however, methinks that the librarians might be under some pressure to justify the existance of the library, and what better than higher statistics?Just my jaded librarian side speaking here...I've been in situations before where things had to be done to incovenience patrons right then in order to effect more change down the road. Sigh.

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