To Find a Screed to Read

I took Walt's advice.


Let's assume I accept your argument that libraries tend to be skewed towards the left part of the political spectrum. What happens next?

What I mean by this is what can libraries do to ensure a better balanced collection? What should we use as review sources? What sort of subject matter specialists should we be consulting? Where can we look up serials by ideology and quality?

What is your library doing to ensure a balanced collection?

Are the differences in quotients that you found statistically significant? It's not too much further from what you have to compute alpha and sigma values. You'd really have something then. Publishable too.

Not sure how to do this with Chi Square or Regression working from two different sample populations. It's been 8 years since inferential statistics. (I think I burned my notebook)

Good questions.

I think the "science" of collection development has become more incestuous in that we (librarians) only seem interested in reading what other librarians have read. And recommend. Library Journal, Choice, Booklist, et al. . probably influence over 75% of all collection aquisitions. Couple this with the reality that the political baromoter of our profession is somewhere between Al Gore and Che Guevara, our collections are only serving half of our constituencies. Whether it be intentional, or purely subconscious, there is a real political tilting in our stacks.

What do I do? Well, I pride my collection on being one of the better balanced academic collections in my part of the country. My interlibrary loan statistics say so too. My library is a perennial net lender to most all other academics in my consortium.

I do read Choice, LJ,and the left leaning trades and academics; Prometheus, Columbia, Harvard, but I also look at Regnery (Walt's favorite), Encounter, Caxton,... I often find real jewels buried in off-the-wall places like the countless political actions committee reading lists, talk and radio show web sites, religious and denominational pages,..... I also value, and frankly prefer, reviews written by the laity in Barnes and Noble and Amazon. I regularly spend time just keyword searching their massive warehouses. It's remarkable the material that never meets the eyes of a reviewer. (FWIW I once reviewed for a major Reed Publishing periodical) If a faculty member suggests books espousing say; darwinism, materialism, reductionism, pantheism, atheisim, keynesianism, socialism, collectivism.......I will always look for something that challenges. Heck I still think my library stands alone as the only one in our consortium to dare hold reparative therapy titles. The same for conservative topics, but you can imagine these are much less frequently suggested by my good liberal cohorts in academe. I immediately make notes to find something to refute, challenge, question. And I won't wait for it to be blessed by Reed or ALA.

it's late....acquisitions,barometer, atheism, Keynesianism....?

Thanks. I think you're right about being too tied to library journals as review sources. Just today I was setting up some RSS feeds from labor journals and out popped out some good book reviews for books on overtime regulation that I hadn't heard of.

I've used Amazon reviews when I can't find others for a book where its catalog entry intrigues me. Hadn't thought about directly mining it for reviews on books I didn't know about.

Thanks for the food for thought.

A question back at you. You say that "If a faculty member suggests books espousing say; darwinism, materialism, reductionism, pantheism, atheisim, keynesianism, socialism, collectivism.......I will always look for something that challenges." Does this mean that if a faculty member suggests a new book on reparative therapy, you'll look for a book that challenges the idea that homosexuality is a curable disease?

A less loaded way of asking the same question is do you always look to purchase books in sets of pro and con, or do you only seek out opposing materials when the books being suggested oppose your points of view?

Unfortunately, my special library doesn't often have users suggesting new items. But when members of my organization do request particular items, we don't normally look for opposing books.