Book Lists

Today, I received a text from my local library to let me know that the book I currently have checked out is about to be overdue (in 2 days). This prompted me to log in to the library website and renew the title. While at the site, I decided to take a look around to see what features are offered, other than renewing titles and looking up books in the catalog. One of the features is to build a book list, which immediately grabbed my attention because I love love LOVE reading lists. In fact, I love making lists in general, so I decided to give it a go.

I chose my topic (Sociological Reads), created the list, and then started my search to add titles. My first choice, Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex came up and I added it to the list. Next, I searched for Durkheim. This search should have brought back all the titles by Emile Durkheim but it returned ZERO results. Okay – maybe I spelled the name wrong. I walked over to my bookshelf and looked at my title of Suicide and found that I was, indeed, spelling his name correctly. Next, I decided to do an Advanced search to see if, perhaps, there was something not working on the standard search. Again, I chose “Author” as my search term and typed in Durkheim. Still, nothing. What the hell? How does a library system not have ONE title by Emile Durkheim?!?!

Deep breaths.

I took a moment to relax and thought “okay – maybe that was too much to expect”. So, instead, I typed in Freud. Three titles appeared in the list. The Interpretation of Dreams, Civilizations and their discontents, and Dreams. Okay – I guess that is a bit better, but where the hell is Dora?! Ugh.

Next, I decided to search for Marx – which I did pause at for a moment remembering that it is 2018 and our library search records are probably being monitored by Big Brother, but I decided not to worry about that crap and search on! This time, I decided to type in the name and then click on the full name in the sidebar – Marx, Karl. In order to get to his name, I had to open up another row since the “most searched names” were Groucho, Harpo, and Chico. Again, ugh. After clicking on Marx, Karl – three results. I guess three really is the magic number here. The letters of Karl Marx, Grundrisse: Foundation of the critique of political economy, and Manifesto of the Communist Party came up. Um – okay – that isn’t horrible, but where the hell is Capital?

This was not working. How could I create a Sociological Reads list without the foundational works in the field?! What kind of library system doesn’t have a copy of Capital? My next search was for The Protestant Ethic and the “Spirit” of Capitalism by Max Weber. This title, I searched for by name and again, ZERO results. Wow. This is super depressing. Just to see, I typed in Weber, Max and chose “Author”, and NOTHING.

Next I searched for Frederick Douglass (by Author name) and a list of 24 results came up. Okay – this is promising! However, when I scanned the list, the titles were different editions of his Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass and My Bondage, My Freedom was nowhere to be found. I suppose that is asking a lot and I should be content with the 24 copies of the former title.  As a counter-point – Booker T. Washington (in an Author search) yielded 10 copies of Up from slavery, which I will count as a win. 

Sticking with the Rochester human rights category, I searched for Susan B. Anthony (by Author name) and received only one title back – a reader called The Elizabeth Cady Stanton-Susan B. Anthony reader: correspondence, writings, speeches. I suppose that women’s suffrage isn’t a big topic of research down here either. Once more for those in the back: UGH.

A search for W.E.B. Du Bois returned zero results when I clicked the link for the Author name on the sidebar, but when I typed in Du Bois, W.E.B. it yielded 16 results, including The Souls of Black Folk and The Philadelphia Negro. Okay – so maybe we are getting somewhere now. Maybe typing in the full name, last name first, in the search bar will yield more results for the above searches. I went back and tried that and came up the same. I’m happy that at least they have Du Bois work on the shelf, even if they only have 16 copies across 9 of the branches in the system.

This last thought, in my searches, led me to another level of understanding. Which branches carry these titles? Does the branch that I frequent, the newest of all the branches that is located in the suburbs, have the titles I found above. And the answer is a resounding NO. None of the titles above are at the branch that I frequent. All of the titles are, however, at the main branch downtown, so I suppose, just like I did in Buffalo, I will be going downtown for my checkouts going forward. 

And yeah, I guess that list isn’t going to happen. I guess the library system down here will be for quiet contemplation and new non-fiction. I’m not really into fiction, as a daily reading genre (unless it is dystopian YA) so my reading options are greatly diminished. Luckily, I still have access to the digital collections at NYPL and BECPL. Otherwise, I’m not sure what I would do. And I’m sure that, eventually, those will be revoked as well, but in the meantime, I will continue to use Overdrive in my quest for sociological titles.

One bright spot I found was when I searched for Angela Y. Davis. Although they don’t have Women, Race, and Class, they do have a new work by her. So at least they are bringing in new works by established writers in the field. We will just have a loss of those works that were generated prior to 2000? I would love to see their collection development plan, but, alas, I have not been called for an interview. 

When I first moved to Huntsville, I was so excited to obtain my library card because, for me, that is an immediate need. Now that I see the full collection, online, I am disheartened by the lack of good sociological titles to be had by the general public. I am hopeful that, eventually, the collections at the various branches will improve, but for now I will rely on my own collection and the ability to circulate books from New York.

Peace and happy reading,

Chantale (aka hippiegrrl)

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