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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Donations and the Library

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, February 27, 2011

We have started adding a label to new books in our library collection, noting items that have been donated by library patrons.


Why?  Because there are so many great new books (and DVDs) being donated to the library, and I wanted library users to be aware of the donations.


The Library Levy last year started people thinking and talking about our library system, and the library’s place in our communities.


Suddenly, we began receiving a larger number of donations than ever before, as people identified the importance of the public library in their lives.


Libraries have always received donations from the public, but the year-long campaign associated with our Library Levy was the largest promotion that we had ever done, which resulted in the dramatic increase of donations.


The library cannot use every donated book, but the ones that the needs of our collections are welcomed.


We also replace books in the collection that are worn with new donations.


In 2010, we added over 2,000 donations to the library collections.


So, can a library operate with just the donations from library patrons?


No.  The whole reason for a library’s existence is to share information for the collected good of everyone.


Many of the most requested books are never received by donation, and must be purchased.


In 1815, when a group of interested citizens gathered in the back of a local drug store to discuss the need for a library, everyone wanted to donate a book to the cause.


The problem was that some folks had no book to donate, and those who did have books that weren’t of interest to others.


So, in the end, a collection of 40 dollars was gathered to “send East” to acquire the needed books which would be shared among the subscribers of that first local library.


Subscription libraries tend to operate for a short time, until the housing of the book collection becomes a problem, combined with the need for new books, and the issue of “overdue books.”


In Ohio, the first “public library” was chartered in 1805 to provide tax dollars in addition to  public support and libraries have been operating ever since.


Public libraries today operate to meet the information needs of the public, and it remains a collaborative effort of both parts.


I enjoy sorting through boxes of donated books, looking for that little gem that may belong in the Local History Collection.


Many items in that collection were treasured jewels of area residents, who donated them to the library for the public good.


Several years ago, a man donated to the library his 3 vol. set of “The History of the World,” published in 1890.  He loved that set of books, and simply wanted it cared for after he “was gone.”


The poor set of books was in terrible condition, and a search found them to have no monetary value.  The set did have the most beautiful end papers, in color, composed of a water spot design.


I gently glued the volumes together, and promised him that I would use them as examples of 19th century bookbinding.


A public library is a combination of everything donated, and purchased for the public good, including those raggedy old books with the beautiful end papers.