Conservation DistList Archives [Date] [Subject] [Author] [SEARCH]

Subject: Book drops

Book drops

From: Ellen McCrady <whenry>
Date: Friday, January 3, 1992
    **** Moderator's comments:   To send mail to Ellen McCrady, put
    FORWARD: Ellen McCrady
    at the top of your message and mail it to whenry [at] lindy__stanford__edu

The damage done to books by book drops is seen daily in book repair
rooms and bindery prep sections, and results in an ongoing outlay of
money for repair and replacement, not to mention the interference with
education and research while the books are off the shelf.  Nevertheless,
it has not had the attention it deserves, perhaps because of faculty
opposition to closing of book drops on campus, or perhaps because there
is nothing dramatic about book drops like there is about disasters and
brittle paper.  Book drop damage is hidden, cumulative and ongoing, like
a chronic disease in the library collection.  No one is ever there to
observe the damage, or to make before and after observations, so it is
not possible to put together the equivalent of a survey, which might
focus attention on the problem and might even lead to a solution.  Can
you imagine a Congressional hearing on book drop damage?  There is no
evidence on the topic, pro or con, that would convince a skeptical third
party, whether or not they were a member of Congress.  I can't even
think of any evidence that would convince a sympathetic person that the
damage was significant enough to make it worth while to work for a
solution, especially in view of the likelihood of opposition from the

Well, there is a little evidence and a few arguments.  The likelihood of
arson from firecrackers or matches being pushed through book drops in
the wall of the building is one. John Morris goes into this in one of
his books, and gives facts and figures.  Anecdotes and horror stories
from the student aides who empty the book cart behind the slot might
have some persuasive value.  Photographs should help as illustrations to
a text or statistics.  No good studies have been published on the topic,
that I know of.

I think the most useful argument might be to say which libraries have
closed their book drops.  It would even be useful for a preservation
librarian to talk personally with someone who had dealt with this
problem, to give them background for their own campaign.  Randy
Silverman and I were discussing this the other day, and we could only
think of one that had done this for sure. I would like to track this
problem in the Abbey Newsletter, and even publish the names of libraries
that have closed their book drops, if they don't object.  Could anyone
who has done this, or knows of anyone else who has done it, let me know
by Email, phone, fax or letter?

I think it is appropriate to give attention to this problem now, since
sound training and methods in book repair are coming into existence and
wider use.  It makes sense to pay attention to prevention as well as to

                  Conservation DistList Instance 5:36
                 Distributed: Sunday, January 19, 1992
                        Message Id: cdl-5-36-005
Received on Friday, 3 January, 1992

[Search all CoOL documents]