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Librarians blog about awful books

Time magazine has a fun article about two librarians from the Detroit area who have started a blog called Awful Library Books, where they list some of the outdated, irrelevant, or abysmal titles they’ve come across (they also solicit submissions from the general public). Titles range from the laughably insensitive (Creative Recreation for the Mentally Retarded) to the merely anachronistic (Computer Tutor: Atari).

One of Quillblog’s favourites is Elisabeth Bing’s 1975 pregnancy guide, Moving Through Pregnancy. The picture accompanying the post is a spread from the book, featuring an image of an enormously pregnant woman vacuuming alongside the following text:

With all due respect for the liberation of women, someone has to clean the house and do all kinds of boring chores. Actually those jobs don’t take too long, and this photo shows Judith with the vacuum cleaner. Look at her closely and see the excellent posture she maintains as she walks around the room, pushing the machine on the carpet. Her shoulders are relaxed, her head is high, and in doing this rather boring but occasionally necessary job, she is aware of watching her posture and supporting her baby well with her abdominal muscles.

Surely husbands everywhere will be thanking Bing for reminding their wives to keep their backs straight when vacuuming during their final trimester. Who could possibly object to that?

  • Paul

    Actually, to weed all of this stuff from libraries demonstrates a serious failure of modern libraries: that this immense source of social history is being culled from libraries for lack of space. Some of the stuff may not be appropriate or useful in the way that it was originally intended to be (or the titles may not be politically correct any longer), but to toss it all out means that we’re losing an interesting resource for studying the 20th century. Libraries need archives to keep such material available to the public.

  • Jane

    Libraries certainly have a duty to maintain collections of depth and breadth. However, not each and every library needs to have a copy of *everything*. There just isn’t enough room. Document delivery plays a big part in “just in time” delivery of information. Initiatives like the Thunder Bay Agreement, comprised of OCUL-IR members are positive steps toward a reliable “last copy” repository to be shared among all OCUL libraries.

    Digitization may not be perfect, but it’s our best bet at preservation given the vast quantity of data we are working with in the early 21st century. Am following this eagerly: http://www.googlebooksettlement.com/

  • Paul

    Jane says: “Digitization may not be perfect, but it’s our best bet at preservation given the vast quantity of data we are working with in the early 21st century. Am following this eagerly: http://www.googlebooksettlement.com/

    Digitization is fine, so long as it is done with the explicit permission of copyright holders. What Google is doing is little short of piracy.

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Book Pictures

Do you have great photos from a recent book event in Canada that you'd like to share with us? Submit them to the Quill & Quire Flickr pool and they'll show up here.

Steve Artelle

Chris Jennings

Kaie Kellough

Jenna

Hall of Honourers

Brandon Wint

Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Eva Stachniak poses with a copy of her book, Empress of the Night

Tea and snacks inspired by Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Rimma Burashko with author Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak talks to the audience about the best and worst of Catherine the Great's favourites

Eva Stachniak smiles as she signs a copy of Empress of the Night for a fan

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