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Posts Tagged ‘Mary Kelly

“I intend to put up with nothing that I can put down”*…


Mary Kelly and Holly Hibner, two Michigan public librarians, have struggled for years to prune their collections.

As The New Yorker notes, librarians call it “weeding,” and the choice of words is important: a library that “hemorrhages” books loses its lifeblood; a librarian who “weeds” is helping the collection thrive. The key question, for librarians who prefer to avoid scandal, is which books are weeds…

Seven years ago, we visited the blog on which they memorialize their choices.  Now Kelly and Hibner have written a book, Making a Collection Count: A Holistic Approach to Library Collection Management, which proposes best practices for analyzing library data and adapting to space constraints.

Learn their lessons at “Weeding the Worst Library Books.”

* Edgar Allan Poe


As we dither over deacquisition, we might recall that it was on this date that “the brave engineer” Casey Jones died in a train wreck in Vaughan, Mississippi, while trying to make up time on the Cannonball Express.  He was killed when his passenger train collided with a stalled freight train on a foggy, rainy night.  His dramatic attempt to stop his train and save lives made him a hero; he was immortalized in a popular ballad sung by his friend Wallace Saunders, an African-American engine wiper for his line, the Illinois Central, and later recorded, among others, Mississippi John Hurt, Pete Seeger, Furry Lewis, Johnny Cash, and played live by the The Grateful Dead (hear it on Spotify here).




Written by LW

April 30, 2016 at 1:01 am

The worst of the best…

“Mary and Holly” (Mary Kelly and Holly Hibner) are librarians at “a medium-sized public library in Michigan,” who have worked together for over ten years.  They’ve developed a long suit in culling library collections– those of their own institution and those of libraries to which they consult.

In the course of that selective work, Mary and Holly face choices that are tough… and some that are not so tough.  By way of celebrating that latter group– books that are “odd, outdated or maybe should be reconsidered under a current interpretation of collection policies”– they created Awful Library Books, showcasing such (currently-in-a-public-library-collection) gems as…

Published in 1971:  Usually the lingo and references are so dated, I can’t believe this would work for any school report for kids.  Interestingly, this book also mentions nutmeg and a few cleaning fluids as sources of a nice high.  So I guess this is more a “how to” type of book

“I can be obsolete”
Published in 1985:  there are a lot of public libraries out there that own it. However, this is the first computer book we have posted that doesn’t seem to have an abundance of mullet hairstyles.

Browse the shelves at Awful Library Books.

As we head for the reference desk, we might spare a celebratory thought for an author who has had his own share of troubles with libraries (though, I’m quite confident, never with Mary and Holly): writer and aphorist Samuel Langhorne Clemens– Mark Twain– who was born on this date in 1835.  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is consistently cited as a (if not indeed the) Great American Novel, at the same time that it is equally consistently the target of censors who would ban it from school and public libraries.


Matthew Brady’s photo of Mark Twain

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