I just made a passing comment to a colleague about how many copy 2s I’m pulling from the literature stacks, and she grinned at me. “Wanna know why?”
The long and the short of it is that 20 years ago someone disagreed with the decision to do a copy weed of the library in order to regain shelf space, and didn’t do the section assigned to them. That section? Literature. I’m certain that the unnamed librarian of yore had very sound reasons to objecting to the weeding project. I’m certain that those opinions were voiced and argued and in the end, denied by the leadership of the library. I’m certain that the librarian felt rebellious and stalwart and justified. But… the end result is that there are four copies of Billy Budd on the shelf, and two are so clearly in need of discarding that it makes my brain hurt. They were very likely just as clearly in need of tossing 20 years ago, but a librarian stood on a line drawn in the sand with arms folded, and refused.
I guess I could say I’m paying the price now, in that weeding is slow going in this section because there are so many extraneous items on the shelf, and it’s disheartening work.
But what I’d rather say say is that our users have been paying the price for years, because the shelves in literature look like the worst kind of library — crowded full of unappealing books, some nearly a hundred years old and not in the good historically-useful way, multiple duplicative and confusing “authoritative” editions, musty, dusty, dogeared, scribbled in, and covered in booktape over unreadable labels, and rife with spine repairs.
Our users deserve better. And they’re finally getting it, 20 years late.
I have to go wash the yuck off my hands, now.