Bertha Bartlett Public Library news

Staff Writer
Story City Herald

—by Kolleen Taylor

If you have been in the library lately, you’ll see shelves ebbing and flowing, with books moving off and moving back onto shelves, especially in the juvenile non-fiction areas. When we do our summer reading programs each year, we try to encourage our youth to spend time in our non-fiction areas, not only reading, but learning about topics that help with classes, with growing up, and with curiosities in general. As we have learned in recent years, there are not new materials on all the subjects we have on our shelves, but periodically we dig deep to try to find something to help freshen our shelves.

So we’ve been devoting time to the process of updating. It’s hard on us to have to bite the bullet and pull a book that we know has nothing wrong with it except the facts….but what a big issue that is! As we study the options for our books on states, and books on countries, it was disheartening to see how little there is to replace these books that seem to vital to our collection, and finding the materials available are so limited, and unfortunately so inadequate!

As we talk with publishers and book sellers, we find locating the proper reading level for the students who need to know the information is very hard. It’s a balancing act: we need to have enough information to be valuable, but not so much as to be intimidating. In past years I recall students assigned to read biographies, with a minimum of 200 pages. We have all struggled to find biographies that were of interest to our youth, AND with that 200 page requirement. Adult biographies almost always meet that requirement, but when the books are shown to those assigned, these just don’t seem to thrill them. And finding any recent noteworthy biographies around 200 pages seems to be nearly impossible!

The challenge of reviewing, revising and reconsidering our collection is one of the components of running the library that makes it relevant in our community. We don’t want to fill it full of obsolete materials, nor do we want to be wasteful of our tax-payer dollars. We have made a habit of placing our pulled materials into our year-round book-sale room to make it available to our community members, and others who are interested in purchasing books. We also have been contacting our schools, to see if there are items that will help them in some way, as they have more of a captive audience and know how and where these will be more useful.

All in all, most of our materials get handled very thoughtfully, considering how they will be used, reused or updated. It’s time consuming, but important that as people use our library, they know we are making a concerted effort to keep both the oldies but goodies, and balance it with fresh new materials. It’s a tough act, challenging us every day, but hopefully we do this well enough, and will maintain a reputation for being a quality library that provides enough of what everyone needs, and constantly watching for things important for our future!