If a library book falls in Nelson…

That’s right: just like a store needs to do inventory, to find out what’s really on the shelves, we need to do this too.

When you pick up the Star today, the library will be closed. No, it’s not a librarian’s holiday (although a winning $2 scratch ticket left in a donated book had us dreaming, recently); we’re closed for a much-needed inventory on May 24 and 25.

That’s right: just like a store needs to do inventory, to find out what’s really on the shelves, we need to do this too. Part of the reason is to keep our collection complete. You don’t like going to look for something that’s supposed to be on the shelf and not finding it, and we don’t either.

But there’s a bigger reason this time.

In August we’ll be moving to a new Integrated Library System (ILS) called Evergreen, which is much like the forest it refers to. In BC, member libraries in this forest make up Sitka, a happy grove of trees that really talk to one another. Being part of this system will put us in line with other BC Libraries: like any good, managed forest, it’s going to help libraries thrive.

A fully integrated library system in BC — admittedly a ways down the road — offers tremendous economies of scale and great efficiencies in management in library resources. It’s working towards one seamless database: one big forest for you to walk through, mouth agape at the lush and growing world, your library card in hand.

In the shorter term, you’ll see improved service, greater functionality, and a bunch of happier librarians who are saving money through efficiencies and consortium buying, the better to put more trees in the forest — er, items in the library. When all of the libraries are on the same page, your library card will open doors like never before.

Our current library system, Mandarin, harks back to the ‘80s, which I remember as being partial to bad fashion and worse music (think fanny packs and Milli Vanilli). It wasn’t a bad system at the time, and it’s served us fairly well, but the library world has moved beyond the capability of our current system. It’s time to sprout new— needles, I guess, being the newest member of the Spruce grove.

Preparatory to all that sprouting comes weeding, which is what we’ve been doing like rabid gardeners since settling on an inventory date. That means culling the old, the grotty, the stained and the torn. Just as we will upgrade to a shiny new, up-to-date ILS, we’re replacing our outdated library items with new versions more with the times. We’re throwing out our Mili Vanilli records and our fanny packs. Hello technically advanced outerwear. Hello Feist.

When a book falls in the library, does anybody hear?

The question is rhetorical: weeding is vitally important for library health and well-being. We’ve been culling, discarding, reordering — and now we’ll be counting. Items count  45,000, give or take, and then we’ll be reconciling our records. Finding the forest in the trees, as it were.

After all that we’ll likely wish we could go on a vacation, but we’ve all agreed that if we cash in that $2 scratch ticket and win $15 million, we’ll buy Nelson a whole new library. Making the whole exercise a little silly, really, but it’ll be a happy problem.

If we don’t win, of course, we’ll carry on, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, like all good forest creatures.


Anne DeGrace’s column is featured every second Friday