Monday, July 6, 2015
I rarely have been enamored with the profession specific language of the library. Terms like "Reference", "Circulation", and "Claims Returned" have never done anything to fire my imagination. But today our collection of talking books went to a different system of circulation in our libraries. Instead of individual books belonging to a specific branch, always returning to their home no matter which branch library a patron returns it to, the item now goes out on the shelf wherever it is returned. We call this a floating collection. The downside of a floating collection is that all the copies can bunch up at one branch, so you might get five copies of one title at one library and none at any of the others. It's the luck of the draw. The upside of the floating collection is that the collection moves around. Different titles can appear anywhere, and a dedicated browser of, say, the large type mysteries, will not so quickly exhaust their branch's collection because new titles can come roaming through at any time, and looking through the physical collection for something to read will stay fresher longer.
But the other upside of a floating collection is that I love the name we have for it. The Floating Collection. It's beautiful. It's romantic. It's evocative. One of my colleagues tonight asked me if I thought that title made sense. Yes! It is marvelously explanatory! Titles from a floating collection are not moored or anchored to a specific branch. They float free. They drift with the tides and the wind and go where they will. They sail the ocean of our library. They are organic and allied with chance and accident.
Look at it this way: The Easterly winds blow a book slowly over to our library. It washes over to our shelves. A patron desperate for something to read, drowning, comes upon it and hangs on for dear life. They float away together.
Just as it should be. A tiny bit of poetry.