Storage: Where Books Go to Die

Here at the OCAC library, shelf real estate is hard to come by. Being a small  library means that if you want something new, you have to get rid of something old. This in context of books is very sad. A book no matter how old or outdated still has literary value based on the time of its publication. A ceramics technique book from 1980 may not seem that valuable, but it can tell you a lot about the time period: the style, technique, and even some politics surrounding the craft and art therein.

As a book lover, it is always hard to weed “no longer relevant” materials from our collection. We do our best to make sure that books leaving our library get a good home. That they either go to a student who can use them, a faculty member who can teach with them, or another library that can use them. And as sad as it is to let go of books, book weeding is a natural part of a library life cycle.

In our attempt to save some books from being lost, libraries have adopted storage. Much like it sounds, storage is a building, garage, or storage unit that houses older/less-used library materials. To me storage has always been a sanctuary.  Its a quiet secluded place separate from the library, where the books are hidden treasures. You can get away from the noise, from work, from all the trouble of your day and search through the stacks, never knowing what cool thing you are going to find next. That being said,storage is also a place where books go to die.

To me there are two types of patrons: catalog searchers, and stacks browsers. The first group are those who are tech savy and know the inner workings of the online searchable catalog. They do all their browsing here and order books to be pulled for them. These people may get an equal share of books from the library itself and books from the library’s storage, because they have the full list of what is available. The second group however are those who enjoy browsing. They know roughly what they are looking for. They make their way to that section of the library and browse for similar materials in the area. For these people they are only getting half the picture. They don’t get to see the all the other books on their selected topic, because those books live in storage. The phrase “out of sight, out of mind” has never been more appropriate than in the library world.

For many reasons, storage books are just not used as often as they should be. For us at OCAC this can be problematic as nearly a quarter of our library books live in storage. The importance of storage cannot be overlooked. having this additional space allows us to have a much larger collection of books, supporting all the academia here at OCAC.

This month we choose to celebrate that awesomeness that is storage. We have created a book display of storage materials that have not been looked in some time. How long you ask? All of the books in the display have been un-handled for 10 or more years. A DECADE without being used. If you have some time to come by and look these books. Pick them up, read them, and please check them out.

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