Sorry, I haven’t posted in a while; I’ve been holding out until I got to the finishing stages of the Collection Development project. Yes, that’s right, for the past couple of weeks, when I was pacing up and down the stacks on the second floor, I was not actually going crazy.
The project was designed for me to look through the collection of older books on World War I and find books donated by Major Harry Parkin. Many of the books donated by Parkin were broad historical surveys or memoirs by participants. Curiously, some of the books he donated were marked up, either with pasted in book reviews or with Parkin’s own assessment. Parkin’s marginalia is incredibly interesting as he either praises books as “first-class war novels” or derides them as “unimportant.” As presumptuous as it might sound, I begin to gain an understanding of who Major Parkin was through his choice in books and his scribbling. A product of early 20th century race relations, Parkin wrote in a book on black soldiers in WWI that it only proves “the negro soldier led by the white officer is first class, led by the negro officer he is simply no good.” Parkin’s donations offer insight as to how soldiers of the war responded to the subsequent early WWI literature.
Now, the project drives us to decide which books to retain in the main collection, which to potentially move off-site, and which to move up to Special Collections. The process is called “weeding” and can almost be considered a consistent and continuous house-cleaning that never really ends. Looking at how else the books might be available, through Interlibrary Loan, through databases like Hathi Trust, or through Amazon, we have to decide what would be most helpful to our patrons.
It’s been a long project but as we look to complete this one, Alexa, Mallory, and I are already looking forward to planning the Spring Finals Week Study Break!