Monday, July 24, 2006

What do we do with all these old journals?

Some people think that libraries are or should be repositories of every thing that's ever been published. Not even the Library of Congress can do that and they disabuse you of that notion fairly quickly in library school. Your typical library has to function as a working collection, serving the current needs of its users (students, the general public, whoever) instead of being an archive of out of date material. Even so, I think that too many libraries are too eager to get rid of stuff - when we needed material for a new life science program, we got truckloads (okay, two van loads) of boxes of seventy year old bound volumes of Phytopathology and Plant Disease dumped on us faster than we could say "Please, sir, can we not have any more?"

So what do libraries do when they clean house? Ideally, we try to dump stuff on other libraries, but since everyone's trying to get rid of the same thing, sadly, it usually ends up in the garbage. The guys at Vestal Design rescued a bunch of discarded journals from the garbage bin at the Stanford University medical library and turned it into this festive book bar. I'm tempted to build one of these at my place out of these old thick volumes of Phytopathology. Everyone should have one of these. You can entertain your guests and preserve valuable scientific knowledge for the next generation.

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