Library changes are troubling
The Charleston County Public Library has been essential to the quality of life of the residents of Charleston.
Dramatic changes are occurring at our library. The public should be aware of these changes, as they will affect our access to the tremendous choices of books we and our children have come to enjoy and expect.
A recent change of practice requires books not having circulated in one year to be discarded. This means that thousands of books that once would have remained on the shelves will now be in recycle bins.
Books have typically been discarded if not circulated in two to five years, and a great amount of professional discretion went into that decision.
The second dramatic change is that the main library is no longer the repository for last copies of books. Books are now kept at the branch to which they have been returned.
This means that if a patron browses at the main branch, or places holds on items that come from several branches, he may return a dozen or more books on one topic to a smaller branch.
With little room on the shelves in some branches, books with some wear, but which would not in the past have been considered damaged, are now being discarded.
You will find as time goes on that there will be far less to select from at the main branch; additionally, at smaller branches, single copies of older books that have not circulated in one year will be thrown out, but the shelves will hold two or more copies of books that have been popular recently, but for which circulation has slowed. In other words, less selection, even at the smaller branches.
The loss of the main branch as a repository is a great disservice to us. Those who read widely, or read a single author in depth, could once find a wealth of books at our flagship branch on Calhoun Street. This change is gradual, but the loss over time will be devastating.
We hope that eventually eBooks will provide a wealth of material at less cost. But that is many years down the road. And given the budget cutbacks of the past five years, this is not the time to be slashing our collection.
Board meetings are public, and this is a time the community can listen — and be heard.
AGNES F. POMATA, Ph.D.