Making Way For New Books

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Members of the Library Committee at a recent meeting.

Members of the Library Committee continue to process books that have been donated to our society. Since I took over as chair in October of 2021, we have received three large donations of books. One was given by the estate of past librarian Laura Spurrier, another from member Mary Myers, who gave us seventeen boxes of books, and most recently we received twenty-two boxes of books and manuscript material from the estate of Gordon L. Grosscup, a past member. One individual donated over one hundred directories and phone books. Past President Jeff Vaillant recently brought in 50 books and several others have given smaller numbers of books.

Processing each book involves checking to see if we already have a copy. When we do, we look to see if the new donation is more current or in better condition, in which case we replace the copy we previously had. Older and duplicate books are then sold and the profit made from the sale goes directly into the society funds.

With each donation, our collection grows! To make room for these additions, our volunteer library committee members are also looking to see what books and materials can be deaccessioned – that is, removed from our collection. So far, we have reviewed all of our microfilm to identify which items have been digitized and are available online for free from a reliable source such as FamilySearch or HathiTrust. It turns out that much of our microfilm meets this criteria. When a microfilm is found on FamilySearch or HathiTrust, we have decided to deaccession it. A list of titles that have been deaccessioned to date is available here. The list includes URLs to the digital copy as of when the microfilm was deaccessioned.

Committee Member Linda Edwards has been going through our periodicals. In some cases, the number of back issues that we’ve held occupies several feet of shelf space. Linda retains the most recent issues and for back issues she checks to make sure that the information is available online and when it is she removes those issues.

Kristi Wessenberg is going through our family histories, again checking to make sure copies have been digitized and are available for free. She has found that about 70 percent of what we are holding is already available online and can be removed from our shelves.

In the past, excess books valued at $40 or more were posted for sale on eBay. After doing that for ten years the decision was made to abandon eBay because it was too labor-intensive for too little return.

Books of lesser value removed from our shelves and duplicate books are placed on the for-sale shelf to the right of the copier. The For Sale sign asks that purchasers donate whatever amount they feel is fair. Again, proceeds from these sales go into the CGS coffers. Unfortunately, too few members have been coming into the library to acquire these books so the shelf is constantly overflowing.

Currently, our excess books are being taken to a local bookstore which purchases a percentage of our offerings and gives us store credit in return. We use these store credits to purchase new books that we want for our library. Rejects from the local bookstore are taken to Berkeley’s Half Price Book Store on Shattuck Avenue, where we are paid in cash, but the amount given hardly covers the parking fees.

We are also looking into the feasibility of selling some of our excess books from our website.

If you have any comments or questions about any of this please feel free to contact me at [email protected].