Disappearing Genealogy Books

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Are books disappearing from your local library or archive? I’ve heard concerns locally from several patrons and I do share their concerns. The books are showing up at library book sales and even Goodwill.

I asked a local librarian why this was occurring and was told that the books weren’t being used. I asked how would they know if the books were being used or not since they were all reference books not available for check out. Didn’t get an answer.

Last month I spent the day at the Indiana Historical Society. I asked Suzanne Hahn, VP of Archives and Library and Bethany Hrachovec, Director, Education and Engagement if there was a trend towards purging genealogical tomes. There is for the following reasons:

  1. They are a duplicate copy
  2. They have been digitized (though not necessarily by the library who is purging it)
  3. There is a copy at a larger library. In northeastern Indiana that would be Allen County Public Library, Indiana State Library, Indiana Historical Society, or a university library.

Many libraries are now moving to a theme – only railroad books, for example, or only books for their particular county. Could be but I’m seeing books meeting the purported theme also removed. I’m also not seeing communication between libraries so one removes a book that would be a great addition for another library’s theme. Instead of contacting the library it goes to the resale bin.

Which gets me to the current situation I see in my local library. Too many books for resale and not enough storage so they are giving the books to Goodwill. If they don’t sell they are then disposed of. So very sad!!!

There are people who cannot read digitized books. Perhaps they don’t have the tech or their eyes will not handle it. I see no sense in removing a book that has been digitized, especially not by the entity that was purging it. How do they know that book will stay available to the public? Think about the recent law suit with Internet Archives! The case is back in court again but that doesn’t mean that Internet Archive will survive their appeal. What a loss that will be for all of us.

Maintaining only one regional copy is also problematic. When it starts snowing here people stop driving, especially older folks. Having to travel up to two and a half hours to look at a book that used to be available five minutes from your home is a ridiculous waste of time and money.

If shelf space was at a premium I could understand thinning the ranks but in most cases, it’s not. If the library had funds to purchase new materials I could understand it but that’s not happening, either.

If this situation is occurring in your region speak up. Complete library surveys to voice your concerns. If you have the funds and space, purchase the volumes. Perhaps a genealogy club or society can scoop up the works and create their own check out system. Genealogy books need to be treasured and available to future generations. Help make that happen.