or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Random Book Rantings [DECKLE EDGE]

   December 17th, 2009

A few odds and ends for my annual "I'll be in Ohio for a week" post:

Deckle Edged BookBooks with Deckle Edges
Over the last five or six months, it seems Amazon has gone crazy marking books [DECKLE EDGE]. I actually like that type of pages, but it would in no way influence my purchase decision - so does that bit of information really deserve such prominent billing?

It's kind of like how my library includes "Pb" (for paperback) at the end of some of our call numbers, i.e. 822.33/Haml/Pb. In theory it's suppose to help locate the book, because it tells you to look for a paperback, but it usually only confuses patrons because we don't put the "Pb" part on the call tag.

So, my question is the same: is that information actually necessary?

News Stories About Long-Overdue Books
There seems to have been a spate of stories recently (and this year in general) about long-overdue library books finally being returned. I wonder if there really has been an increase in this occurrence If so, why? And why does the public care? I guess it's a little interesting what someone checked out 99 years ago, and that it survived this long, and that the quaint little library fine would have been x-hundred dollars, but the library has graciously waived it.

I wonder what would happen if this happened in my library - I think, nothing. Sure, we'd talk about it, but probably just give it a barcode and put it back on the shelf - or to the book sale. I don't think we'd call the newspaper. Besides, my library doesn't charge overdue fines, so ours would lack the gracious ending.

And with all the attention these people get, do you think anyone right now is deliberately deciding not return a book so they can get their fifteen minutes 50 years from now? It occurred to me that the only reason people know these books were checked out 99 years ago is because the checkout date is stamped in the book. 99 years from now, there will be no more of these human interest stories, because ILS systems don't last that long, and when you switch from one to the other, chances are you lose a lot of historical data like this. Makes you realize that older technologies are actually better at data retention.

Do Nothing But Read Day
I read on LISNews about Do Nothing But Read Day - and happily noted that it (Sunday, Dec. 20th) was the same day I would be on a 17 hour train trip from Boston to Ohio. It doesn't sound like I meet all the requirements, but I'm going to participate in spirit anyway (and tag them on LibraryThing).

I've never taken a cross-country train trip before, and I'm kind of looking forward to it. It's even got a cool name: the Lake Shore Limited. Amtrak offers free wireless, but my emphasis will be on books: printed books, audio books and video books (a.k.a. movies).

I hope you enjoy your holiday season, and I'll be back in a week or so.

Tags: , , , , ,

8 Responses to “Random Book Rantings [DECKLE EDGE]”

  1. Amanda Says:

    One of the things I love about my current workplace is that we still stamp the books. I’ll never understand giving patrons a receipt of due dates. A receipt is yet another thing to keep track of, whereas the stamp is already in the book!

  2. Beth Says:

    i have to say that when i worked in a bookstore, deckle edges were the bane of my existence. i myself love deckle edged pages, but customers always seemed to think there was something wrong with the book, like it was cut wrong or something. i’ve seen similar comments on amazon, and i assume this is why it’s so prominent…people can be a little slow…

  3. J Says:

    Boston to Ohio is a long trip, but it isn’t cross-country. I guess “cross-time-zone” would sound awkward though.

  4. Jen Says:

    I am laughing hard at your “video book” comment. Finally, justification for the amount of time I don’t spend reading so I can go to the movies!

  5. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Amanda: Do you stamp in addition to some kind of electric record? It seems like extra work, but you’re right, I do like the idea of it.

    @Beth: That makes sense – I hadn’t thought of it from the “what’s wrong with this book?” point of view.

    @J: “Cross-country” because it is the easiest phrase, but I actually do consider it cross-country. The distance is bigger than many countries, but moreso it’s the differences in geography and topography between the two places: New England is noticeably different “country” from the Midwest. And actually, they are in the same time zone – just different edges.

    @Jen: actually, one of my most popular book displays at a previous job was a “What did you like better: the book or the movie?” display, which featured both the book and movie versions.

  6. Mark J. St. Hilaire Says:

    Any information the publisher can provide is useful to those who really care about such facts. Otherwise, the prospective buyer has the simple option to ignore it. In other words, any additional information is never too much.

  7. laura Says:

    Hope you enjoyed your train trip! I used to take the Lake Shore Limited quite a lot, but that was in the ancient days before wifi, which I think would be a nice addition — although I was always too zonked on the train to do much of anything but sleep.

  8. Brian Herzog Says:

    @laura: thank you – overall, I did enjoy the train. It was long though (17 hours each way), and it turns out they don’t have wifi. But you’re right – I probably napped about half of the trip.