marriage of 2 times great grandparents in family bible

The Life Changing Magic of Library Maintenance

As a co-owner of this little corner of the Internet, I feel obliged to weigh in on Marie Kondo’s comments that had book lovers twitchy and defensive. Kondo’s philosophy is about a “less is more” lifestyle and advises the book people to let go of titles that don’t spark joy. Many of Kondo’s critics took issue with her suggestions of downsizing a personal library. The rallying cry of “you can never have too many books” was heard across the Internet.

Content vs Physical Book

Before everyone gets their book jackets in a twist, it is time to let go of the idea that books by themselves are sacred. Is it the actual book or the contents within? A public library exists to help people navigate life by having access to the information they need to make decisions. Sometimes that information is digital, video, audio, or a plain old book. It also is anything from romance fiction to a detailed 1,000 page tome on the life cycle of a fruit fly.

documents library

Primary Source Material in the Public Library

You may be tempted to keep older history materials, such as those written during the time the event was happening, because they are “important” or as valuable primary source material. Here’s the thing about primary sources: they are valuable and important; crucial to good research, even. Here’s the other thing about primary sources: they rarely belong in your average neighborhood public library.  Why not? I can hear you shaking your heads! Why on earth would a public library weed primary source material?

If your public library’s mission includes a statement about archiving and preserving, then yes, primary sources are for you! If your public library’s mission involves providing college or professional-level research materials, then yes, primary sources are for you as well! For everyone else, whose public library missions are to support the educational, entertainment, and life-long learning needs of the community through popular materials and programming (for example), primary sources are not for you. You’ll be better off with books that put history in its proper context: the past.