Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thank You...No

Our Library has a public relations problem. It isn't a rude staff; ours is great. It certainly isn't incompetence; our people have won state and national awards. Moreover, we are known far and wide for our outstanding marketing. Our problem is this: how do we tell our generous patrons that we have no use for the moldy contents of their attics. Folks come in, beaming with pride, carting boxes full of bound National Geographics, dating back decades, or granny's artistic efforts, or some such thing. When they are met with, "thanks but no thanks," they are mystified and moreover miffed. "Oh, you have enough money now!" they will say. We've tried a variety of strategies, including accepting donations with a warning that they may be added to the collection, sold, or discarded. Even with that, donors often show up some days later and want to be directed to their donated treasures on the shelf. No one wants to tell them their gift was dumpster bound. I think we need to let people know there is a difference between an archive and a library. Folks are shocked when I tell them a library's collection is a consumable. It is purchased, used up, and then discarded. There seems to be a widely held belief that the local public library is where old books go to retire. If our collection was full of such items, the Library would be as forgotten as the attic from whence they came.

Steve Bertrand
Assistant Director


Blogger Jeff Scott said...

Isn't that the dilemma of most libraries? Patrons don't want to throw away books so they send them to the library for retirement? recycling? We received some bad press several years ago when we said we were overwhelmed with donations. The paper said the library doesn't want books, argh! At least you are not putting your discards in the dumpster and spraying them with dishwashing soap.

November 14, 2007 9:01 AM  

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