Fifty years ago there were no such things as mini-storage units. Nowadays, it seems like they’re everywhere and everyone has one to store their “stuff” outside their home and garage.
Space isn’t only a problem for homeowners, but the library as well. And right now, the library’s running low on space for its stuff.
For the library, a storage unit isn’t an option. Downsizing (another recent euphemism in the language) –reducing what the library owns—is the only option.
Over the next few months the library will be eliminating some of its stock to make room for new books and new uses for the space that’s currently occupied.
What’s going to go?
Many books for sure. The library regularly discards the books that have seen better days or contain outdated factual information. Over the coming year the pace will be accelerated and the number increased by eliminating some items that haven’t left the shelf in a while.
Some technologies are at least passé if not downright antiquated. Such as VHS tapes. And cassette tapes. The library has held onto these sturdy and reliable formats even though they’ve been superseded by newer technologies. There are some people that still have a trusty VHS player and an older car with a rugged cassette player and the library has retained a stock of these formats for those folks.
But, the use of those items has reached such a low level that the tapes are gathering dust and the occupied space can be better utilized by things that are in demand. The library isn’t a museum of old technology.
For that reason, the library is phasing out both VHS and audio cassette tapes. Starting with the tapes that haven’t been used for years, the collections will be “weeded” (an old library term for culling unviable items) until there won’t be many left by mid-summer.
For the tapes that still are getting use, the library has been trying to get other contemporary formats to replace them. Some older items, however, just aren’t available.
If you use either of these formats, and can’t bear to see them go away, there are options. The Friends&Foundation book sales always have a selection of donated tapes; the next sale is March 28 and 29. The library can also try to borrow these formats from other libraries.
Ultimately though, as time marches on, these tapes will only be in museums, next to the steam engines, typewriters, and black and white cathode ray televisions. Beam me up.
David Zavortink, Library Director