By Creed Kidd
You may not have been aware, coming into Red Feather Lakes Community Library the past couple of months, that you’ve been crossing picket lines.
We were warned, early in the year, that this might happen. One gentleman specially stated that some of the off-season gnomes on Elf Lane were considering picketing the library to support the collecting, shelving and maintenance of quality titles. We at the library are all for that.
And sure enough, a few days later they arrived, signs in hand, and have remained since. With dour, stony expressions they hold placards of revolutionary content: “Quality, not Quantity!”, “No discard of Classics!”, “Great Literature Forever!” Well, we’re for that as well.
However, their stony presence day after day at the library (though not intimidating) reminds us often of Poe’s “Pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door” and that’s a positive. It’s not necessarily a bad idea to have someone looking over one’s shoulder, especially in conducting the public’s business.
Let’s look at quality vs. quantity. Quantity really isn’t an issue at 3,000 square foot Red Feather Library here in downtown two-block MainStreet beautiful, Red Feather Lakes Village. There’s simply no room for quantity with shelving space at a premium that (in our humble opinion) exceeds the value of square-foot mid-town Manhattan. As a multi-purpose library shelving competes with the need for logical organization, computer access, programming space, display space, and workspace for staff and volunteers.
(As an aside, we’ve been in numerous libraries – large and small – since 1980 and have never seen a staff technical services room smaller than that at Red Feather Lakes Community Library.) That is not necessarily a deficit – but simply indicates that staff must do more with less. And, they credibly do.
So, there’s always enormous competition for library shelving space from the multitude of titles published every year. We’re intent on providing quality over quantity with every purchase and every purchase considered for popularity, level of use, attractiveness, interest, relevance and readability.
A classic, in every sense of the word, is a local title that has been read and enjoyed by successive library users. For example, a best-use title over many years has been C. J. Box: Open Season, his first book. That’s a local classic, as is series by Craig Johnson, Jacqueline Winspear and Louise Penny. Continuing titles that have continued to engage readers.
Prefer Daphne du Maurier or Victoria Holt? Sometimes we do as well — and for occasional titles occasionally requested we rely on borrowing copies from sister libraries, inexpensive one-time purchases, and online access and downloading.
There’s a reading level and order. We’re working towards two copies of Joe Pickett on the shelf because too often on request the first copy is out. However, if you’d like first-rate, wonderful copies of the Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth or James Joyce, Ulysses, we can have them downloaded onto a borrowable device within 10 minutes