In the library community, there’s an ongoing tension between providing the books customers want and not providing “bad” or “harmful” ones. Since the library is tax-supported, our collection is there to serve the people of the county—the tax payers. At the same time, there are some books which the taxpayers may be better off not reading.
For instance, we don’t have books with instructions on making bombs, hijacking, covering up a crime, etc. Sure, some of our non-fiction books might give people ideas, but that’s not quite the same. (Which is why the whole Patriot Act library records thing annoys me. I haven’t seen a single terrorist-type book in the library.)
In some areas, it’s a little harder. For example, we have some really sucky personal finance and investing books. But judging the difference between a “good” PF book and a bad one is much more subjective.
Last week, though, I came up with a PF book that I really do want removed from the library system. It’s all about how to win big at Powerball.
It seems so irresponsible that we’d offer this book. Powerball is entirely a game of luck. Unlike poker, which takes some skill and other games that allow one to count cards or manipulate the odds, Powerball isn’t determined by what numbers won last week. This card seems to have been written by a shyster looking to milk money out of the hopeful and desperate.
The good news is that the book is old, so I’m going to suggest that the shelf-weeding group take it out of the system. They’re trying to thin our books, since we have more than the shelves can hold. It’s an ideal candidate, since it doesn’t circulate much and is kind of ugly. I just have to wait until the lady who checked it out brings it back.
What do you think? Is a book on how to win at Powerball harmless? Or gray enough that a library should have it? Or something that shouldn’t have ever been bought?