Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Caroline Kennedy speaks at American Library Association meeting
Libraries should stock more books of literary value
With 10,000 members of the American Library Association convening in Seattle, I hope one topic of discussion is the tension between stocking “good” books as opposed to books that are merely currently popular [“Kennedy sings praise of libraries: ‘tabernacles of personal freedom,’ ” NWMonday, Jan. 28].
The Seattle Public Library (SPL) does not replace “good” books that go missing or fall apart; for example, Jessica Hagedorn’s novel “Dogeaters,” which was nominated for a National Book Award in 1990. It assigns the task of choosing books for purchase to a distributor who bases its recommendations on what is in current demand. Never mind that a number of these books are hardly literary.
It seems to me a critical mission of the library is keeping in stock books that have survived the test of time and/or are critically acclaimed. While a borrower may make a special request for a book from another library, SPL now charges $5 for the privilege. This has the ultimate effect of damping down curiosity and limiting library patrons to a catalog that, day by day, is losing its store of literature.
--Carole Glickfeld, Seattle