Kalimac (kalimac) wrote in slof,

good ideas pursued incautiously

A notice in the new Borderlands newsletter, presumably distributed in other places as well, caused me to put on my librarian hat.
Buy a copy of one or all of The Tiptree Memorial Award Anthologies for your hometown library! The Motherboard of the James Tiptree Jr. Memorial Award urges you to purchase and a send a copy of one or all of the Tiptree Memorial Award Anthologies to your hometown library, in the interests of spreading the word about outstanding fiction that expands or explores our understanding of gender, and making that outstanding fiction easily available to the next generation.
It sounds like a good and generous idea, but please check with your library first before you donate books to the collection. If you visit in person, go to the reference desk (not the circulation desk) of the main library (not a branch) and ask to speak to the collection development officer for science fiction, who might well be sitting there answering reference questions at that very moment.

The problem is that when a library buys a book, it costs a lot more than just the purchase price. And these extra costs can't be easily solved by waving more money at them, because the costs are in staff time. Time to decide whether to accept each donated book - libraries get offered a lot of crap. Time to enter the book into the cataloging database. Time to process it physically: to stamp it, to add the barcode and security strip, to put protective mylar covers on, etc. It's not much for any one book, but it adds up fast.

If you just donate a book cold, some overworked harried person is going to look through a pile of them, and they know they can't take an indefinite number of books even if they're all good, and anything they don't take goes straight to the public booksale, where its departure will get the library no more than $2 in hard cash.
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