Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Quality of Wisconsin Public Library Reference Collections (1960)

Reformatted figure 12, "Per Cent of Public Libraries Holding at Least One Copy of Each of Thirty-Three Selected Reference Works",  from pages 64-70 in Facing the 60s:  The Public Library in Wisconsin.  . (Based on 265 libraries reporting.)

Other survey findings:
  • 18 libraries (7%) did not own a single title.
  • 104 libraries (40%) owned at least 1 but least than 8 titles.
  • 4 libraries owned all 33 titles.
  • 135 libraries (50%) did not own any titles from the list of specialized reference books.
Related post.
Wisconsin Public Library Survey: "The Quality of the Book Collection" (1960)

Here's another stroll, to the more recent past.

Needless to say, this bibliography hasn't been updated in quite some time.

Where the print reference collection used to reside at the Middleton Public Library.  Note how the atlas case has been sent to stand on it own in the corner, like a misbehaving child.
Photo courtesy of Liz Dannenbaum (Taken in 2010)

The last time I checked, Middleton's remaining print reference collection took up about 60 linear feet of shelf space, about half of which consisted of local, many of them unique, titles.  It's now shelved in the same range with back issues of magazines, another shrinking collection.

1 comment:

Nanette said...

This is fascinating, Paul. Thanks so much for posting these images, including Middleton's "former" reference space.

I'm teaching Basic Reference for UW-Madison's SLIS Continuing Ed certificaion program, and it just so happens that this week we're discussing reference collections in general. The assignment was for students to post a photo of their library's print reference section onto the discussion board and then to discuss it. You've made me realize, though, that some libraries may not even HAVE a print reference collection anymore!

Btw, this is the last time SLIS is offering this class. Next year it morphs into Community and Public Services, in line with the state's new public librarian certification requirements. In other words, we're not even calling this library service "reference" anymore.

Another sign of these changing times.