Public Comment

Many Books in the Berkeley Public Library Collection Are Being Purged and Pulped by Administrators

Roya L. Arasteh
Monday July 06, 2015 - 11:04:00 AM

The Central Berkeley Public Library, once a destination library, is now becoming a decimated library.

Hundreds and hundreds of books are being dumped from the collection without input from librarian selectors, and pulped. All “weeding” is being handled by two managers - with partial input from four other librarians. The entire rest of the librarian staff is locked out of the ordering and weeding process, and has no access to the book budget.

This new policy requires that books are discarded, based solely on their circulation records. The new library director has stated that all books on the shelves that haven’t circulated in the last three years must go. (Ten years for Art & Music books.) It’s being done clandestinely and quickly. All these titles are being "deleted" instead of cancelled so that all catalog records are destroyed. No count is being kept.

Senior retired library staff and current library staff have urgently approached members of the Board of Library Trustees to stop this process. Mr. Scott, the library director, reassures the Board that these complaints are exaggerated.

The staff, retired and current, is not exaggerating. 

Other library systems,including Alameda County Library, have faced similar attempted purging from misguided managers, and - because of citizen input - the decimation of the collections has been somewhat turned around. 

We still have a chance to save what remains of what was once an excellent public library collection. Concerned library patrons, readers, friends and Berkeley tax-payers are urged to write to the Mayor and Board of Library Trustees to call for a stop to irresponsible, rampant weeding immediately. 

A special event to Save Our Books is scheduled for TUESDAY, JULY 14th at NOON on the steps of the Central Library (downtown, Shattuck and Kittredge). At this MEET UP TO CHECK OUT, library supporters will gather with their large carry-alls, boxes, rolling carts and wheelbarrows before checking out their maximum of 50 library titles. 

Roya L. Arasteh is a former staff member of Berkeley Public Library (18 years), a resident of Berkeley (31 years) and a property-tax payer (29 years).