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Friday, January 05, 2007

Classic Literature at the Fairfax County Public Library

Recent media reports that claim our library system is eliminating all copies of classic literature from our shelves are absolutely incorrect. Although we occasionally reduce the number of copies of a particular title -- perhaps trimming Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls from 110 copies to 108, for example -- we’re committed to offering classic texts by western culture’s leading authors.

Here are a few examples of the number of books we offer which were specifically mentioned in the article:

Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak -- 50 copies of books, CDs and cassettes.

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner -- 99 copies of books, CDs, cassettes and large print books.

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway -- 108 copies of books, videos and cassettes.

The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams -- 116 copies of books and videos, including in some volumes of collected plays.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee -- 359 copies of books, CDs, cassettes, DVDs, videos, e-books and large print books.

Because of the growing demand for more books in more formats and languages, we have to balance the need to offer classic literature, and satisfy public demand, within our limited space. We can’t warehouse every book that every resident wants to read. We use industry standards, computer data and the expertise of librarians with decades of professional experience to offer a hard-working, comprehensive collection to the public.

We take our stewardship of public property very seriously and strive to prudently manage the public’s investment in the library. Our efforts are paying off: we’re on track to have our books checked out more than 12 million times by the end of this fiscal year, a 10 percent increase over FY2005 when we began our new “weeding” process. We commend our customers for their strong support of the public library.

Edwin S. Clay III, Director
Fairfax County Public Library


Rob Darrow said...

Great response. I applaud your new policy. It makes a lot of sense and a way to better meet the needs of your community.

Jon Swift said...

I applaud your policy of weeding out dusty old "classics" from the shelves of your library so that someone will not stumble upon them accidentally while browsing and feel guilty about not reading them. And good riddance to all those tulip books! I have written a post in support of your efforts. And let me also add that I'm glad you have enabled comment moderation so that you can similarly "weed out" any dissenting opinions.

BenMerc said...

Have you at any point removed all copies of any author? And if so, what are the criteria used to justify that kind of policy? I would think some streamlining could have a positive impact on your operations or efficiency in serving the public. But complete removal of targeted literature would certainly erode any sense of intellectual freedoms that have traditionally held steady in this culture.

Anonymous said...

It would be great if you could point readers to places like Project Gutenberg ( where readers can get many classics free of charge. When I was a student, reading old copies of classics with yellowed pages, broken spines, and sometimes *special* scents would have paled if I could have read them on a computer or PDA.

eliolibrary said...

I applaud your new policy.But in my country(Albania) is worse.I am forbidded to give information for students from our University
Bujar Kocana