Rollout of Public Information for Relinquishment of the
Bigelow Free Public Library’s Older Holdings
Overview: In the past there has been considerable public misunderstanding about the relinquishment of library holdings. Now that the old collection is ready to be relinquished, there needs to be a positive, forward-looking public relations document and campaign to avoid future misunderstanding. PR materials should be shorter than this document which is designed to allow all trustees to familiarize themselves with the project that started in 2014.
Backstory: The core service of the BFPL is availability of services and materials of interest to the public. These services and materials may be available within the library building. However, they are increasingly available beyond the library’s bricks and mortar.
Each year somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books are published in the US alone, meaning libraries are continually engaged in the decision of which books to keep and which to let go (a process known as “weeding.”)
Since 2014, the Board of Library Trustees has overseen an extensive review of books in the library’s closed stacks known as “Older Holdings.” (See Trustee Report for Board Meeting, August 21, 2014 that has been available to the public at www.bigelowlibrary.org since 2014.) The older holdings are books that have not been requested for many years.
The trustee-directed review of the older holdings has now been completed. Some books have been identified as of particular interest to the library and the community and will remain in the library as a historical collection. The vast majority of the older holdings have been identified as being available elsewhere either as digital copies or as interlibrary loans from other large libraries. In other words, removing these books does not make them unavailable to the community.
Review process: In 2014, eight professional book appraisers visited the library (some twice) to review the BFPL’s older holdings and provide professional advice on the antiquarian nature and value of the collection. These eight appraisers were selected with reference to information available from Massachusetts and Rhode Island Antiquarian Booksellers (MARIAB), a professional antiquarian booksellers’ member organization that provides details of appraisers’ areas of specialty and scale of operation. The Trustees especially sought out appraisers who had experience with large book collections. None of the appraisers identified any books of exceptional rarity and antiquarian value.
However, the then Board of Trustees determined that monetary value shouldn’t be the sole criterium for retaining a book. It was decided, therefore, that every book should be reviewed based on the following criteria: Did the book represent the history of the:
- Formation of the BFPL (its evolution from an early private collection to a free public library)
- 19th and early 20th century BFPL collection
- Printing and illustration techniques of the 19th and 20th centuries
- Town of Clinton and surrounding area
- Culture in the 19th and early 20th centuries (classical and popular cultural examples)?
The public may see this criteria review process of many years visually documented at www.bigelowlibrary.org.
“New” Historic Collection:
The “new” historical collection will comprise examples of the 1-5 criteria described above. It is proposed to house the collection in what is currently the Library Director’s office beside the circulation desk. First, however, the library will be seeking professional guidance on preserving and protecting the collection by applying for a XYZ grant in January 2022 from the XYZ. There is also a further grant possibility to implement recommendations described in the initial grant.
Older Holdings identified as available elsewhere:
These books will be relinquished to allow for expansion of the library’s 21st century materials. Since the books are the property of the Town of Clinton, the Trustees will be guided by the Town Administrator to ensure the library adheres to the requirements of relinquishing town property and follows procedures described in Massachusetts General Law.
Prepared for discussion at Board of Trustee Meeting, held on November 23, 2021