Hoarding is not collection development

Rover is a Ghost

Animals on the Other Side
Browne & Dufresne
2005

Submitter: Psychic Sylvia Browne and her son team up for this bizarre picture book.  On the left side of each two-page spread, an image of Browne’s now-dead dog frolicking in the afterlife. Apparently, this book is meant to teach children about the death of pets, from a psychic/spirit world point of view. On the right-hand side of the spread, an explanation, alternating by Browne or son, with a more detailed description of issues in animal afterlife studies. You can learn why animals who are prey and predator on earth get along fine in the afterlife, or why there are no animal ghosts. Heavy stuff. So is this a kids book or an adult book? The “children’s side” of the book isn’t really written with the kind of vocabulary you’d expect in a picture book, and it has no story or other hook. The images are unimaginative literal replicas of the text. My library has this catalogued in the adult section, no doubt to avoid either parent complaints or child trauma. Sadly, it circs well and is in fine condition (I seriously doubt any child has used this book), so I’m not weeding it. It is awful, and it’s staying put.

Holly: Every now and then we like a good,  old fashioned collection development discussion here at ALB. I’m posting this one for discussion value, not because I think it’s an awful library book. I’ll go first: I’d put it in adult non-fiction with Browne’s other books and keep it until people forget who Sylvia Browne was or until it falls apart – whichever comes first.

RIP, Ms. Browne. See you on the other…hey, wait a minute…

 

More on the Unexplained:

Out of Body or Out of the Library

The Urantia Book

Secrets of Stonehenge

How to Make ESP Work for You

12 Responses to Rover is a Ghost

  • I would weed it. I am an Acquisitions librarian at a college. We, as a staff, have talked about awful books that circulate like this. We came to this conclusion. What are we staying to the students, when we have awful books on the shelf? That they are acceptable to you? That you should use them? So we try to replace them with better content and weed them out. Its out job to bring patrons and content together. We should strive to make it the best content possible. That’s the difference between librarians and Google. We are a trusted source and have the ability to filter out poor quality items. Google just gives you it all.

    Last week I found a book that was getting enough checkouts to keep it off of any withdraw lists. The books title was something like “Introducing architects to windows 95.” ugh. Why on earth were students checking this out?

    • An outdated technology book is a much easier call than anything from the spirituality section. Is it more important to pull a book about ghosts because we think ghosts are dumb, or is it more important to foster a collection development philosophy that will prevent other librarians from pulling books on evolution or vaccines or Islam based on their own beliefs?

    • There is a meme floating around the internet it says something like, “Google can give you a 1,000 answers, but a librarian will give you the right one.”

    • You’re a college, not a public library, your content has to be different.

      Also it’s not up to us to tell people what to believe, just give them the information from all sides to make their own choices.

      I believe in God, I believe in ghosts, but I believe Sylvia was a massive fraud.

      • Hello Jami,

        I have years of public Librarianship under my belt thanks. So I know how they work.

        My point is that we have to keep our material current and up to date. This is not current. Holding on to outdated materials renders you useless and expendable. Before you know it, you will be the new digital branch. Best of luck.

  • The pictures look like the ones my grandchildren do with their coloured pencils. Maybe Sylvia’s grandchildren drew them as a favour to her.

  • I work at a public library. As much as I personally would never read or like this material, it is important to have all sides covered in a public collection. Even if this kind of material drives me crazy. It is part of our policy to have something that is of opposing viewpoints so I take solace in that. This book is crap.

  • Interesting, in that I sometimes feel a “ghost cat” is in my house, because my real cat is never where the noise or the paddings across the bed are. That said, I think this book sounds like a bunch of hooey. I have friends who really want to believe in a Rainbow Bridge for their pets and I wouldn’t deny them. Granted, this may be an awful book, but it may give some semblance of comfort to someone who’s lost a beloved pet.

  • I’m all for including books on the afterlife if people are interested in the subject, but I’ll have to agree that this one shouldn’t be included. The writing is poor and anything with this level of sappy “spiritualism” makes me cringe. I can understand what the illustrations were going for, but they fall short. Plus, is that Comic Sans on the “kids’ side”? That’s grounds alone for it to be weeded.

  • It’s funny. We have this book at my public library and I have never even opened it to look inside. It does circulate. I wonder what the children or parents think of this after they open this up at home. I think I’m inclined to move this to the adult section. Then again, our Sylvia Browne fans have not been as active as in the past and circulation is down on those titles. We’ve already weeded a few out. Give it another year or two and this book will probably be weeded as well.

  • This book fails at making this type of spirituality respectable. Poorly written, a disconnect between vocabulary and illustrations (target audience?), vanity photos of authors everywhere. If a young child picked up the book based on the cutesy illustrations, I suspect the parent would make up a story to read aloud instead of reading the text.

  • Family nap time!