For the past 18 months, Manchester Central Library has been destroying its reference stock with no public consultation, no records kept of what has been destroyed, and as far as we can tell, no Disposal Policy guidelines to follow. No one has any idea of what treasures have already been lost.
After a great many requests to go public with this policy – if it even exists – the Library came up with a document online. It stayed up for a couple of days – and was then removed. Why? Accountability should be the watchword in all dealings of this kind, but this process has been kept behind closed doors. What is the library trying to hide?
Meanwhile, an article in the Manchester Evening News last week highlighted the various wonderful “rare and valuable treasures” that librarians have discovered, among them a 1946 Penguin First Edition of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. A rare treasure? – you can own it yourself for less than a quid. Here it is on Abebooks – at 64p.
If anyone wanted further proof that this process requires subject specialists and not ordinary librarians, there it is.
Manchester Central Library needs to answer a few simple questions, that any responsible library would be able to do at the drop of a hat. They need to publish that Disposals Policy properly. We need to know how many books have already been lost and what they were. Finally, and most importantly, the Library needs to provide a full catalog of what is being disposed off in the months to come.
THESE BOOKS ARE NOT OWNED BY MANCHESTER COUNCIL, OR THE LIBRARY – THEY ARE OWNED BY THE PEOPLE OF MANCHESTER. WE DESERVE TO KNOW WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THEM.
Meanwhile, for anyone interested, a copy of that short lived Disposal Policy can be found here.
And that copy of Wurthering Heights – go on, buy it. At the rate they’re going, you’ll be able to build up a lending section bigger than Manchester Central in a few months.