Questions Women Ask
Submitter: This book was actually brought to my attention because it was identified as “rare” by one of our consortia and included in a list of books recommended for retention. Upon reviewing the book it became instantly clear that the book was rare not because of its significance, but because no other academic library in its right mind would have held onto a book like this for almost 50 years! I guess one of the benefits of never weeding our collection is that we have held onto rare gems like this awful library book.
Reading this book is almost like going into a time machine. Not only are both the questions asked and the advice given dated, their specificity situates them within a clear social and historical setting. Concerns about radioactive milk bring to the fore fears of the Cold War while questions concerning how to properly address divorced women demonstrate uncertainty around “acceptable” behavior and choices for women at a time when the women’s liberation movement was not yet a battle won.
In the end, it is hard to claim that this book is truly awful as it appears to be in earnest. The views it represents are clearly those of another era and if nothing else it is a good reminder of just how far we’ve come.
Holly: Thank you, Submitter. Awful “library” books are not necessarily awful books. This is definitely an awful “library” book because it is so dated and the information so irrelevant. I have found all kinds of books in the collections I manage in my library that are marked with the word “retain.” That never means forever! Every item in the collection has to be re-evaluated periodically for currency, relevancy, authority, condition, etc. If I’m going to keep a book in the collection, it won’t be because a librarian ten or twenty years ago marked it for retention. And if I’m going to weed it, that certainly won’t stop me.