On 24/09/2013 0.24, Michael Klossner wrote:
If the book is fraudulent or misleading, why keep it? Instead of doing the best job she can cataloging it, could the cataloger appeal to the library’s selector, or medical specialist, or the administration, to chuck the book? Especially since it has something to do with medicine. The library could possibly be sued by someone who claims to have been harmed by following the book’s guidance and who claims to have been influenced by the book’s inclusion in the library to believe it was a valid guide. Libraries occasionally unwittingly acquire (and more often are given) useless books. We don’t have to keep them.
A good point, but that is not the cataloger’s decision. The selector determines whether an item goes into the collection or not. It may turn out that the selector and cataloger are the same person, but there nevertheless remain two different roles with quite different purposes. Naturally, selectors are human; they make mistakes too and perhaps may have made one in this case.
The collection should not be merely the reflections of the hopes and fears, the philosophies and political opinions of the librarian(s) who run the library. That is why personal collections at home exist. I remember at one library I worked at where I discovered that the collection had a number of books on “globalization” that were all anti-globalization. For the record, I have also come to the conclusion that the globalization movement has not had such positive results for modern society–but that is my own opinion based on my experiences and readings. And yet, I began to buy books that were pro-globalization so that the collection would not be so skewed and therefore, people could figure out their own opinions without the collection skewing their minds for them by providing only one side of the argument. At the same time, I would not buy any of those books for myself.
By cataloging correctly, the library should bring everything together in the “Globalization” section so that people can see the various sides when they browse the shelves or find the correct place in the catalog. We can see how it works in the LC catalog for the “Protocols of the wise men of Zion” 1.usa.gov/16nPKZ2 As you browse, you see the originals, and then the commentaries such as, “History of a lie, “The protocols of the wise men of Zion”; a study.” along with lots of other viewpoints.
These are some of the points that make a librarian’s role fundamentally different from that of teacher, researcher, or book seller; why the Googles and their secretive algorithms may not be so wonderful, and why I think the role of the librarian remains so critical today.