Sunday, August 05, 2007

A Few Of The Books, None Of The Rules

This just in from my local paper, The Asbury Park Press: Recycling library a fresh idea in Mantoloking.

Mantoloking (NJ) has a "recycling library." Bring in an old book, take someone else's old book.

Some interesting quotage from the article:

"We put in two bookcases in June, and they were filled in a matter of days," she said. "I know people are using the library, because when I come to borrow a book that I saw on the shelves, it is often not there. And there are always new books."

"But most popular of all seems to be Readers Digest condensed books."

"There are no library cards and there are no rules."

What I find interesting about this article:

What do people want? Books.
What don't they want? Rules.

What is unsaid in the article is that Mantoloking is the wealthiest community in the state of New Jersey. And, it is in Ocean County, home of Ocean County Library. Which has a big collection and a number of branches. Also, Mantoloking has a number of summer residents; I'm not sure how that factors into this.

How does the wealth of the town factor in? If an individual REALLY wants a certain title, they will buy it and won't expect it to be at the recycling library. Plus, they know that other library services (wireless Internet, reference resources, programs, etc.) are just a short ride down Route 35.

But bottom line, what do they want? Books. And they want them with little fuss: no cards, no rules, no returns. And, of course, no real funding and, apparently, no real expectations about what will be there. As mentioned in the article, it's about recreational reading: "People have more time to read in the summer, especially if they are going to the beach. This is an easy way to get a book or two to read."

I think what a recycling library also does is provide people with a way to get rid of unwanted books and feel good about it. It's an interesting local option about what to do with books that libraries don't want as donations and that people don't want to hang onto. While library practice can vary from location to location, library to library, often people expect that donated books (whatever the book) will wind up on a library shelf; I've spoken to people who are upset that the library won't put those books on the shelf. This is an answer to those people who feel that their old books can be used by someone else.

It's also interesting that people are willing to give up a wide range of selection in favor of convenience. But, of course, this is a community that has other options (the Ocean County Library, bookstores) if what they really want isn't on the recycling library bookshelf.

Cross posted at Pop Goes the Library (actually, this was originally meant for Pop but I wasn't paying attention. And rather than remove it from here, I'll just cross post.)

1 comment:

Barb Szyszkiewicz said...

There's a little branch of the Burlington County, NJ library in a little Victorian town (Riverton) that is known for being wealthy. This is the only library I have ever known that has a "give and take" section. It's a regular library with a regular borrowing section, PLUS a "porch sale" ongoing with bookshelves full of books for a quarter or two apiece. But there are 3 or 4 spinning bookracks in the main room of the library. These are filled with paperbacks. Anyone may take books from this rack; they only ask that you tell the librarian how many you took. They refill the rack from donations left on the porch. I have taken books from the rack and returned them to the porch when I was done. It seems to be working well for them to have all 3 things going on at once.