Email to Library Director McPhee
Dear Ms. McPhee,
Recently, I was looking for a book in the railroad section, and also in the aircraft section, for some research I am doing. I discovered that the railroad book, "A History of The American Locomotive, It's Development: 1830-1880" by John H. White, had been removed from circulation. This hard cover edition is one of the most sought after copies of early railroading, for research purposes, and is actually quite valuable. I also noticed that about half of the books on railroading were gone.
Also, several valuable books on WWII aircraft were gone. I used these books often. What I did, with the aircraft books and the railroad books was to make copies of the information I needed, so the books could be left on the shelf for others to use.
Also, the reference area of the library is practically non-existent, anymore, a mere shell of what it used to be.
I noticed that there were rather large areas of the upstairs that are void of anything. What is the purpose of this? Any library must keep these collections. There simply is nowhere else one can turn, without spending a goodly sum of money. The citizens of Largo paid over 23 million dollars for this library, and for me to discover that valuable reference material is purged, simply because nobody checks them out, is not justifiable, on any account. Who was responsible for this? There certainly was room for all of this material, judging by all the empty space in the library.
Please don't reply to this e-mail if all you are going to send is a canned response. I am 77 years old, and I am not stupid. The actions of the library in this matter are a meaningful loss to the citizens of Largo.
I have sent a copy of this letter to the Largo City Commissioners.
Thank you for letting me know your concerns about the print collection withdrawal process. I'm currently out of the state, but am glad to answer your questions. The library staff has been working on this project throughout the year and it is one that is ongoing in almost all libraries. They are utilizing usage data, condition, availability of information within the subject area, and input from public service staff on trends in patron use to determine collection maintenance. While this project is in progress, patrons will experience some movement and shifting of the collection in the 2nd floor area.
The reference collection changes started about 2 years ago for several reasons including, a shift in publishing toward online resources, very low usage and a need to reallocate funds to more popular areas and emerging formats. This trend is happening in public libraries nationwide. Many of our reference titles were moved to the circulating collection, allowing patrons to check them out if needed. The original reason for reference collections came from limited access to information. Now, so much information is available online, it is faster and very cost effective to use the Internet as a first reference resource. There are still a few titles cataloged as reference that contain hard to find information.
With so much material available through cooperative resource sharing, online databases and Internet, it is possible to provide more subject areas than could ever be housed in one library building.
I apologize for any inconvenience you felt in association with our collection maintenance project.
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