Thursday, January 30, 2014

Library quietus

It is no secret that libraries everywhere are confronted with budget cuts, and even threatened by extinction. In a world where the standard unit of measurement for value is the dollar, libraries find it hard to compete with more profitable undertakings, as they bring a different type of riches and resources. But not all libraries are equal, and while sometimes the public action and/or generous donors manage to intervene in time to prevent a tragic end (as is the case of UC Berkeley libraries), others pass away with quiet resignation. This was the case of seven of the nine famous Department of Fisheries and Oceans libraries that closed their doors by autumn 2013, to, of course, reduce costs. Precious collections left their places on the shelves only to provide fodder for dumpsters, landfills, or, worst of all, fire. Huffington Post reports the whole story here, and while it is debatable whose fault this "libricide" is, there may not be just one person or one organization to blame for a state of things that has become the norm. This, unfortunately, is not an isolated incident. For a related story about life sciences and law special collections libraries, please read Sarah Sutherland article "Saving the Irreplaceable in Small Libraries" in our latest Amphora issue (165).

Would it not be great for us, as a race, to put our priorities in order before it is too late, shake the tyranny of money, and start investing our time and efforts into something worth while?

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