Why Does History Have to Be So OLD?

June 30, 2009 at 5:44 am 1 comment

Yesterday was my first day in my new library. I’m my own department head, overseer of a collection for 900 high school students, and I’m mildly terrified.

It’s very exciting, of course. I’m told the candidate pool this year was deep, and I managed to nab this spot–no small feat for someone barely six months out of library school. I’ll be the only one in the library, meaning I’m more or less making my own rules and calling my own shots.

My library has been… what’s a more polite word for “abandoned?”–for the past year, with no new purchases and no programming. And the more I learn about the the history of the space, the more I wonder how much purchasing and programming ever really went on. While that means I do have a bit of an uphill battle ahead of me in terms of getting the collection up to speed, it’s also an enviable position for a new librarian. My first year likely won’t be overshadowed by the legacy of my predecessor. Instead, everyone I’ve met in the building so far has told me how much they’re excited to have me there.

I’ve been pondering advice I heard a lot during library school: don’t try to do anything much your first year. This was coming from seasoned librarians, people who’d been in a variety of schools and libraries and knew that it’s hard enough to figure out the lay of the land and figure out how everything works. But as I said during the interview process, my school doesn’t have that luxury. They need a library program now. So here I go, diving in with both feet.

For day one, I started right in with the weeding process. The good news is that because there was so little circulation last year, the collection is more or less in pristine catalog order. The bad news is that so far the average age of the the 900s rests squarely in the 1960s.

Francey Harris from the Uni High Library was kind enough to pass along her weeding policy, but when I started reading it I had to laugh a little. One aspect of appearance that might make a volume a candidate for weeding? “Books of antiquated appearance which might discourage use.” That describes a huge chunk of my collection! It’s a very hardback-heavy library–I can count the number of paperbacks I’ve seen so far on one hand–and I’m finding history books from the 30s.

What’s on your must-have list for history and social studies?

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What I’ve Been Reading What I’ve Been Reading

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Frances Jacobson Harris  |  June 30, 2009 at 9:24 am

    I have this theory that the afterlife is personalized. So when I die, my personal hell will be having to spend eternity reading all the books (and – horrors – vertical file materials) I ever weeded. Still – weed away, I say! Do you have decent $$ for refurbishing the collection? Replacements should reflect the curriculum (blah, blah, blah). I’d grab recent editions of gems like Books for the College Bound, the Senior High School Library Catalog, etc. just to get started.

    Reply

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