Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Library ladies

The Friends group at work had a meeting Saturday morning and I had the rare privilege of a front seat at the sideshow. They are as fine a bunch of little old ladies as you would ever want to meet and goodness knows we couldn't survive without them, but lordy, that is a group of daffy people.

I was rather amazed that the meeting only lasted an hour and a half. How can you possibly fit in the going off on wild tangents, the pointless wrangling over irrelevant points, the minimum of four repetitions of all information that are vital to a committee meeting in a mere hour and a half? Not to mention dramatic moments like one of the women insisting that a corner of the park we're part of being sold to the hospital next door meant the park was going to be "GONE. The park will be GONE." Alrighty then.

I didn't realize it at the time, but I narrowly avoided a confrontation with the woman who runs the Friends bookstore in the basement. Here's the current procedure for book donations: they go to the library, where we go through them and cherrypick the good stuff that we don't already have. Then they go down to the bookstore to be sold for 25 cents to a dollar. Bear in mind that we're a small library with a tiny book budget, almost all of which is spent on the adult popular fiction. It's what brings our core patrons in, after all. But it means most of our non-fiction and pretty much all of our children's section languish somewhere in the Truman administration. Donated books bring in desperately needed fresh blood. So you wouldn't think this would be a controversial arrangement. But I overheard the bookstore manager telling some other people that she hated it when we took her books.

Okay. The average cost of a book coming into our library is probably $20, and it will circulate for years and be read by many people, so getting a donated book saves us a decent amount of money and continues to provide value for years to come. Or it could get sent down to the bookstore and earn at most $1, almost certainly less. Which of these scenarios do you think provides more value to the institution as a whole? And does it truly not occur to her that instead of selling twenty donated books to be able to afford one new book for the library, it might be a tad more efficient to just put the donated books in the library in the first place?

It's things like this that make me understand more and more why my boss is often in danger of spraining her eyeballs from rolling them so hard after dealing with our Friends.

1 comment:

  1. Ha, I so look forward to reading more about your Adventures in the Library. :)