Flash in the pan vs. staying power

What a world of wonders we live in. We get play-by-play instant news coverage as rebels storm Muammar Gaddafi’s compound in Tripoli. Within moments of Jack Layton’s last breath, the news of his passing — and his lovely letter to Canadians — is across the Internet. And along with military and political storms, we know about devastation by tornado in the charming town of Goderich, Ontario, and before those winds have died we have gust-to-gust tracking of hurricane Irene.

What a world of wonders we live in.

We get play-by-play instant news coverage as rebels storm Muammar Gaddafi’s compound in Tripoli. Within moments of Jack Layton’s last breath, the news of his passing — and his lovely letter to Canadians — is across the Internet. And along with military and political storms, we know about devastation by tornado in the charming town of Goderich, Ontario, and before those winds have died we have gust-to-gust tracking of hurricane Irene.

When the Vancouver Canucks were in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Greystone books had A Thrilling Ride ready to go, with hopes that the final chapter would be about the win. That’s history, of course, and now the book is subtitled simply The Vancouver Canucks’ 40th Anniversary Season (on order for the library shelves).

You can bet that there were new biographies of Jack Layton ready for that final chapter, too, as well as new analyses of political unfoldings in Libya, the better to understand that heady play-by-play.

In a world increasingly demanding instant information, and where boundaries and political leaders and breaking news situations shift and twist like a white flag pinned to the West Bank wall, choices come hard to this librarian when it comes to acquisitions.

We are a culture of words and a species of thought and opinion, and we like to put the two together. For every news event we receive in a two-minute CBC soundbite, there’s a backstory, a careful analysis, and a different viewpoint to be had. That’s where the library comes in.

After the September 11th events in New York and elsewhere, news media and Internet were bursting with information from sources sublime and ridiculous, both. I know people who still believe the whole thing was a hoax. But the library is your reality check, the librarians your navigators. We try to choose acquisitions in print, audiovisual media, and downloadable materials that will give balanced viewpoints — from Palestine to Israel and beyond — and historical perspective.

I’m not saying it’s not sometimes tricky to know what to order. When the name Barack Obama emerged on the airwaves, the question of whether to order Dreams from my Father was a reasonable one; who could say what would happen? Similarly, we have Kim Campbell’s biography on the shelves, one of our shortest-termed PMs (who knew?) and not one of our frequent-circulation titles.

Politicians — from Trudeau to Ignatieff to Mulroney — have always written books, it seems. Some have staying power, some not so much. And some, such as Jack Layton’s book Homelessness: The Making and Unmaking of a Crisis (363.50971), will enjoy a sudden resurgence of interest.

Some world events and political situations carry on, sadly, for a long time; books about famine or child soldiers have a long shelf-life because, unfortunately, these problems persist. Taking action takes understanding, and so these remain important to our collection, even as circumstances around these issues change. Romeo Dallaire’s Shake Hands with the Devil (967.57104) will be around for a long time, lest we forget the Rwandan tragedy. Gideon Levy’s The Punishment of Gaza (956.953044) offers a window into an issue that’s not going away anytime soon, and for which there are no easy answers.

So we do our best, trying to satisfy our patrons’ need for information while stretching the acquisitions dollar. We always welcome suggestions, because it gives us a better idea of the issues you need to understand. Think of us as the post-game analysis to the news media play-by-play.

And around the world goes.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP responded to a report early Friday morning of a suspect firing a gun at a Salmo home. Photo: Black Press
RCMP arrest woman who fired shots at Salmo home

The woman allegedly discharged a firearm early Friday morning

Nelson is holding a municipal by-election to replace former councillor Brittny Anderson, who resigned in December. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Nelson by-election nomination deadlines set

Candidacies must be registered between Feb. 9 and Feb. 19

Summit Ski Hill had a delayed start to the season because of warm temperatures. Photo: Summit Ski Hill
Late season start frustrating for Nakusp ski hill

Summit Ski Hill only just opened Jan. 14

Four friends were heading to their home on Highway 6 just south of Silverton on the evening of Dec. 25, 2020, when the people in the front of the vehicle saw what looked like a “huge, man-like figure” on the side of the road. (Pixabay.com)
Possible Bigfoot sighting shocks, excites Silverton residents

‘I didn’t see the creature myself, I saw the prints’

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Harvest Meats is recalling a brand of Polish sausages, shown in a handout photo, due to undercooking that may make them unsafe to eat. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says the recall affects customers in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Ontario and Saskatchewan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Canadian Food Inspection Agency Mandatory Credit
Harvest Meats recalls sausages over undercooking

Customers are advised to throw away or return the product

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government announces creation of B.C.’s first anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Andre Robert won $500,000 through a Lotto Extra ticket on Dec. 23, 2020. Photo: Jeanne d’Arc Allard
Creston resident wins $500k through Lotto ticket

“I was surprised. I wasn’t sure if it was true or not.”

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

Most Read