Awful Library Books

Hoarding is not collection development

Spinsters Abroad

Spinsters Abroad: Victorian Lady Explorers
Birkett
1989, this edition 1991

Submitter: I’m at the beginning of a massive weeding project at my public library and found this gem in the early 900s. While the topic is one that is appropriate for our collection, the title and cover are major detractors. In addition, the paperback copy is starting to yellow around the edges due to age. As awesome as these ladies are, this one is a definite discard for us.

Holly: I love the pun of the title. Spinsters A”broad”? Get it? This book could be cool: Victorian ladies shun convention in favor of adventure. According to one reviewer on GoodReads, it reads like a doctoral dissertation with percentages and facts but not enough well-developed story telling. Pure facts date a book much quicker than stories would. Bummer! Cool idea, bad delivery.

If submitter’s copy has yellow edges, they probably should weed it. If it has sat untouched for a few years, I can’t see a lot of reason to keep this one around in most public libraries. I think the cover is actually kind of appealing, but only after you read the sub-title. At first glance and out of context it’s just funny.

 

 

More Maiden Voyages and Travel Tales:

Long John Silverstein

Japan Expo Guide

Sunburnt Africa

Glamour in the Skies

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The Pioneers

The Pioneers: The Picture Story of Canadian Settlement
McClelland and Stewart
1968

Submitter: The non-fiction section of our school library in Quebec hasn’t been weeded since…well, ever, so now that we’re undertaking it there have been good pickings. We came across this book in the Canadian history section. It was allegedly about pioneer settlement of the Canadian frontier, but apparently the Canadian frontier was settled by creepy dolls. The one in the middle with blonde hair and blue eyes is a whole new level of terrifying.

Despite its 1968 publication date, this book actually contains a lot of information that could still be useful, but nobody has checked it out since the 70s. Maybe the nightmare-inducing cover had something to do with it?

Holly: There is something about old dolls, isn’t there? This is an odd cover for the book. Either someone was trying to be clever by representing pioneers with dolls from the era, or they are actual dolls brought by actual pioneers and it is somehow relevant to the book’s content. Old photos of actual pioneers would have been better, or maybe a daily-life artifact of the time that doesn’t stare at you with disapproving glass eyes.Verdict: I’d keep the book (unless the same info is available in a book that people seem to like better, since this one hasn’t been checked out in 40 years) but it is a strange cover.

More Strange Covers:

Computers A to Z

Hawaii: Paradise or Polar?

Evolving Cover Art

WTF Cover Art: Timepivot

 

Not Your Mama’s Drama

Dramatized classics for Radio-style reading
Olfson
1964

Submitter: From a public middle school library with a lot of outdated books – especially in poetry and drama. We are in the process of weeding the entire library.

Holly: I don’t even have much to say about this other than BORRRRING. As you can see from the contents below, there are some good classic titles here, but how many schools do radio-style readings? It’s not the worst thing ever for classroom performances or dramatic reading, but kids will not be very excited about it.  I guess if the objective is to introduce them to classics and talk about old-timey radio shows this would work. Reader’s Theater is a more contemporary take on this idea, though. Unless the teachers insist, it’s probably a safe weed.

 

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