Monday, November 17, 2008

Ref 000 Shelf Clearing

I have just finished going through the entire Ref 000 collection. On the cart are items that are up for discard. Some individual explanations:

Whitakers Almanac and Time Almanac--we stopped this as a standing order. Probably not a good idea to keep these old issues there?

Farmers Almanac we are keeping, but do we really need all these back issues there? I kept 2007, 2008, 2009.

Magazines for Libraries is nearly 10 years old. A few things have changed in the magazine world during that time.

International Organizations we cancelled as a standing order in 2003. The 39th ed, which is 2002 seems a little old to be useful. The same is true for World of Learning, Official Museum Directory, American Book Trade Directory and ILMP.

Although I have actually used American Book Prices Current several times, the volumes we have are becoming increasingly outdated.

Is there anything on this cart that you would like to save? Also, is there anything there that you think we should resubscribe to? Also, take a look at what I have left on the shelf to see if you think there are anymore items that should be discarded.


Janie L. Hermann said...

At a first glance of the cart, I can say for sure that I want to keep Panati's Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things. I use this book several times per year when middle and high school students are doing projects on inventions - a quirky, fun, reference book that does not go out of date.

I am having a hard time thinking that we won't have Whitaker's Almaanack in the collection, but can't honestly remember the last time I used it... which make it hard to justify. However, it does give a different perspective being a UK almanac so perhaps that is reason enough?

Parting with long-standing reference books is never easy, so let me think on the rest of them.

mlh said...

It is difficult to think of our collection without a Whitaker's. We are such a multicultural community....someone may really want to contact the Deer Commission of Scotland someday! The chapters on countries of the world is handy reference when you don't want to plow through lists national anthems!! It gives us a bit of depth I think at a time when we might become rather lean.

Farmer's Almanac is available on line. IF we must keep back issues park them on the 4th floor.

I think we can pitch the Time Info Please almanac series. I never used it because I prefer the World Almanac.

Keep Panati's.

Wow it would again be hard to think of our collection without Katz's but as the number of paper magazines declines.....

Guide to special issues..pitch.

I haven't used International Organizations and kind of think that the internet listings for various organizations will be more up to date. I checked a couple and they popped right up.

American Book Prices Current looks pristine and unused! I've never used it. What does Andre think?

Banned Books Resource Guide - pitch.

ILMP 2003, since we are an international community replace every five years.

We have so many authors in our community it seems to me that this would be a helpful source to those who have to market their own books. Once every five years?

International Yearbook is dated. Pitch.

Unless there is an updated version of America on Display, I would keep it as a complementary volume for searching museums etc. Likewise keep the Official Museum Directory but update.

Networking in New Jersey is dated. Pitch.

I used to use the World of Learning all the time. Not so much recently. I am attached to the Europa publications...

barbara said...

In reality I have not used any of these references in quite a while althoug I did look for the world of learning several weeks ago and it wasn't on the shelves. The info there is definitely to be found piecemeal on the web but much easier to search in directory form. Headquarters USA is a useful fallback and of course price is ultimately the decision maker. An update every 5 years may do it.

As far as the other tools, Whitakers will be the most difficult to give up. As Janie pointed out Whitakers the UK almanac does give a different perspective.

I'm glad you're not getting rid of Famous First Facts. I feel about that as others feel about Panati's.

Jane said...

GS says: What a trip down memory lane! Way back in the time before computers, Jane and I were in library school together. Back then the reference “bible” was a book by William Katz, chock full of reference titles and descriptions, page after page of them. Our reference class assignments were to basically learn every book by heart and answer various questions using them. And here they are, 20+ years later, sitting so humbly on the cart. Abandoned. Obsolete. I haven’t looked at more than the covers of most of these titles for years. Some of the information is actually difficult to find online such as museums listed by subject category but not impossible (and I must say, no one has ever asked me the hours of a museum say in Kansas or what congressional district it might be in). I would toss all but two: Panati’s Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things and America on Display. America on Display could be moved to the circulating collection because it makes interesting reading. Many of the museums listed do not have websites and certainly don’t have the descriptions listed in the book.

Catherine Harper said...

Thanks to a slow afternoon at the desk, I was able to take a close look at all of these. Here are my thoughts:

Official Museum Directory—I’d vote to keep this, based on this very cursory analysis:

The question I ask myself when I do a Google search for the kind of information in this source is “Am I missing anything”. As a test, I tried a search for museums in my home town, Chino, CA. The OMD shows one historic site in Chino—the Yorba-Slaughter Adobe Museum. The first few results of my Google search for “chino historic sites” included the official site of the City of Chino (which didn’t have anything about historic sites) and, which gave me only eight historic sites within thirty miles of Chino (it didn't have Yorba-Slaughter and it also excluded the John Rains House in Rancho Cucamunga, only about ten miles away). I also wasn’t successful in finding this historic site on the National Register of Historic Places web site, searching either by name or by subject terms (meaning, I assume, that it is not in the National Register). It is listed among the forty some odd places in San Bernardino County that appear on the California Office of Historic Preservation historical landmarks page, so I could have answered my question this way. How long did it take me?—about five minutes. How long did OMD take?—about five seconds.

Let’s say I was interested in costumes and decorative textile museums in the northeast. How long would it take to compile this information by searching the web as compared to scanning the eighteen pages (three columns each) of the index under that heading in OMD? And how confident would I be in the comprehensiveness of my search results using both methods? I think OMD would win on both scores.

International Literary Marketplace—I’d vote to keep it if only because our library serves a community of writers, editors and publishers, many of whom have dealings with writers, editors and publishers abroad. That said, I can’t tell you the last time someone asked me for this book, or that I had occasion to use it myself. If the majority vote to drop it, I won’t put up a fight.

World of Learning—This, on the other hand, I view as a must keep. This is Princeton, after all. I’ve had people ask for the names and contact information for public libraries in Paris, and for research institutes, archives and museums in various parts of the world. Unless the price is through the roof, I can’t see dropping it.

Guide to Special Issues and Indexes of Periodicals—-This is, by far, the most valuable source ever produced by SLA, and I have long wished that they (or someone else) would update it. Well—someone has— Unfortunately, their database isn’t cheap (about $400/yr), but here’s what one happy customer has to say: “I love this database! For many business reference questions, it’s better than Business Source Premier or General Business File ASAP at targeting timely industry-related information.” (Jill Adams, Business Reference Librarian, Beaverton City Library). Maybe worth looking at? One is also supposed to be able to get information about upcoming special issues from entries in SRDS Business Publications Advertising Source, but I imagine this is beyond our budget. In any case, what we have is too old to be useful anymore, and we should discard it.

Editor & Publisher International Yearbook—The main difference between this and Bacons’--which I love, by the way--is that EPIY has international coverage, which I think makes it worth keeping. Less significant distinctions are EPIY’s coverage of shopper publications like The Weekly Saver (Trenton) and a “who’s where” index.

Banned Books Resource Guide—drop

Networking in New Jersey—This is getting too old. I’d vote to drop and just rely on the Encyclopedia of Associations and the Encylopedia of Business Information Sources for this kind of info.

American Book Dealers Directory—I know that books are on the way out, but still I have hard time accepting that a public library wouldn’t have in its collection the premier directory the U.S. book trade. It’s not just bookstores, but dealers of foreign language books, specialty bookstores, book importers, and antiquarian bookshops. I’m not aware of an equivalent source on the web. I’d vote to drop this under just two circumstances—one, if there is an equivalent source on the web that I’m not aware of (although the ABAA site is good), and/or two, if Terez and Andre say it’s not worth buying.

International Organizations—drop

Magazines for Libraries—drop

Time Almanac—drop

Whitaker’s Almanac—As almanacs go, Whitaker’s is one of the best, but it’s probably time to abandon the Anglo-centrist attitude that has made it a fixture in U.S. public libraries all these years. It’s best feature, in my opinion, is the countries of the world section, but Europa does this in much more detail.

Old Farmer’s Almanac—We have to keep getting it, for all those people who believe its forecasts, but I’d drop the old ones.

American Book Prices Current—As it happens, someone asked for this just the other day, and was appalled that we weren’t keeping it up to date. My attempt to explain to him that there are now online sources for this kind of information (a good list is available at was met with grudging acceptance. Oh well. ABPC is no longer available in print (only CD-ROM or online for $595 for the first year), and I don’t see the point in keeping the older volumes. And, again since there are so many online sources, I don’t think it’s worth considering getting Bookman’s Price Index again (remember that one?). In my view, all of these sources, whether print or online, have limited value—mainly to satisfy idle curiosity. If someone wants to sell or buy a used book, they can ask for documentation of value from the dealer, who will in all likelihood have access to sources like ABPC and BPI. If they want to insure a book or donate it and receive a tax-writeoff, they will need the services of a qualified appraiser. Also, no one single source is sufficient to get an accurate value for a particular book. And, besides that, condition, signatures and inscriptions can greatly affect a book’s value.

America on Display--This book is interesting, but it's also twenty years old. I did a quick check for accuracy, and, as it happened, the first museum I looked up—the Nut Museum in Old Lyme, CT—closed in 2002. Also no longer around is the Governor Lurleen B. Wallace Memorial Museum or the Computer Museum in Boston. The Bead Museum has moved from Prescott to Phoenix. The Women’s Army Corp Museum changed its name. So did the Museum of Broadcasting in NY (became the Museum of Television and Radio in 1991). The people who ran the Potato Museum from the basement of their home in Washington, D.C. had to find a new home when their lease ran out in 1989 (I didn’t try to find out where it ended up, if anywhere). That’s enough for me. As quirky as some of these museums are (and quite a few do still exist), I have a problem with books that give this much misinformation. I vote to discard it. Maybe something similar has been published more recently.

Panati’s—A definite keeper.

Catherine Harper said...

Ok. Now that I've told you what I think of all these sources, I'll answer your questions, Jane. And this will be brief!

I'd get rid of the Whitakers and Time Almanacs, Magazines for Libraries, International Organizations, Special Issues, America on Display, and American Book Prices Current. But I'd like to see us buy the latest editions of International Literary Marketplace, World of Learning, the Official Museum Directory, Editor & Publisher IYB, and the American Book Trade Directory, and maybe plan on purchasing each of them every four to five years. Or, as a money-saving alternative, we could try to get two- or three-year old editions on Amazon.

And I'd keep Panati's. Aside from that, I'd be interested in a trial of

As for the 000's you didn't pull, I'd recommend discarding Guide to Reference Books. It's just too old. The new edition is apparently only available online by subscription ( Maybe we should do a trial, although it looks like you can get a lot of the information free on the web site.

Cynthia said...

First, I need to know where that Potato Museum moved to!!!

Many of these items are new to me (and fascinating!).

As Catherine notes, OMD is the most complete and comforting source. I would keep this.

I would not keep International Year Book; Networking NJ; Banned Books Resource Guide; America on Display. Mostly because they are out of date and other sources are probably better at this point.

I have to review much of the rest--I simply do not know them well enough to comment at this point.

Kristin said...

on the reference desk to get through all of these, however, now that I've discovered Panati's, please don't let it go. I agree with Catherine that the strength of Whitakers is its countries of the world section, but I am reluctant to say toss it.

Jane said...

Your comments have been very helpful. Here's what I'm going to do. I will keep Panati's. America on Display will go into circ. I liked CH's suggestion about pursuing Amazon's wonderful world of used books for some of the other titles that are hard to part with (which we have already done with CQ Almanac). Here's what we can get:
World of Learning - new $875; 2007 $18.39
Official Museum Directory - new $297; 2007 $35
American Book Trade Directory - new $299; 2007-2008 $9.36; Editor & Publisher International Yearbook - new $239; 2006 $42.
Whitaker's Almanac - new $140; 2007 $1.79

So for $140.39 plus shipping of about $20, we get nearly new items worth $1850 new (also plus shipping).