So I recently talked to the manager of my local library branch and they were able to give me a lot of helpful information. Sorry if this is typical information to anyone else, but as a guy who used to always just buy any book he wants, this is all new to me.
- With a few rare exceptions, all of the books in the libraries that aren’t in the central branch are considered a floating inventory. They can be ordered from any branch in the city and be returned to any branch in the city. Wherever they’re returned is where they’ll remain unless someone checks them out and returns them to another branch. If you look at my post from last week, you’ll see that I’m contradicting myself. That’s because I misread a book’s status on the library’s online ordering system. Mea culpa or whatever some latin dude said.
- Pretty much all of the branches have a pretty sparse non-fiction section, with mostly filler and a few diamonds in the rough. I wasn’t given a reason for this, but to be fair, I didn’t ask.
- The central branch has a ton of good books. Unfortunately, a lot of the really interesting books cannot be checked out because they’re any combination old, expensive, or rare, and the library often has only one copy of them. This is a rule set in place to prevent these hard to replace books from getting damaged or lost. Any branch manager can request s non-borrowable book be transferred to their inventory temporarily for the convenience of a patron, but A) the book cannot leave library grounds and B) the request can be denied.
- Additionally, if there is a book that a patron is interested that is not in the city library’s inventory at all, a librarian can help them try to order the book through a statewide loan system, of which many of the colleges are a member of and we all know colleges tend to have some really juicy choices. I did not ask whether or not these books can be taken home to read once ordered, but if I had to guess, it’s a case by case basis.
- There is a team of people that work at the central branch that decide what books to order for the libraries. From what I can tell, they work with their own criteria and public input doesn’t have much sway. However, I can donate books specifically to be added to the library’s inventory (instead of being put up for sale for fund raising purposes), but anything I donate will be added to the floating inventory and as such, there’s no guarantee they’ll stay at the local branch.
For a ten minute conversation, I learned a heck of a lot. My local branch manager was very helpful and friendly and just all around pretty awesome actually. I kind of wish they were my boss.
Surprise Mini Ask Hubski
So with that said, if you were given the option to donate just one book to be put into your local library’s inventory, what would it be and why?