Library Lesson Learned III

Just before the library closed on Tuesday, a boy came to the desk to ask if we had any books about dogs. He wanted non-fiction, so I brought him over to the 636.7-ish area of the children’s section and we found a few books of interest. He told me that his parents said he could get a pet, so he wanted information about dogs, hamsters, guinea pigs, and horses (although he assured me he would not be getting a horse). He chose a few titles and snuck out just before closing time.

I work at a small branch library, and frankly, the 636.7-ish area is nothing to write home about. The selection is limited, and much of what is available is dated. As part of the Minuteman Library Network, we can request items from any of the 42 member libraries; however, in Tuesday’s scenario the boy wanted the books right then and there, so he was limited to what we had on the shelf. In the end, he got his information, although it was not particularly comprehensive or up-to-date.

When I want information about something, I go to the Internet, and then to a book or other specialized source if I need to learn more. But not everyone has that luxury. Even in an information age in which the Internet tends to be the go-to source, some people do not have the access or know-how to tap into the World Wide Web. So, while I was glad that the boy found a few books, I almost felt as though he was missing out. I don’t think that either the hamster or dog species has changed a whole lot since the publication of those books, but I didn’t like the feeling of providing him with subpar sources. Some information is always better than none, and I hope those books help that boy make a more informed decision than he would have without them. (If he returns to the library on horseback, we may need to do some serious collection assessment.)

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