Timms Geoffrey P.
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ArticleHolding Our Ground at the Edge: Influencing Perceptions of Library Value( 2020-01-17) Timms, Geoffrey P.Who judges the value of our libraries? Administrators look at costs and benefits, so librarians generate reports about the use of library spaces, resources, and services to demonstrate return on investment. But potential library users simply decide if we can satisfy their needs. Some people form a judgment based upon an initial perception or brief encounter, some hold fleeting opinions, and others become entrenched in a specific perspective – sometimes for years. A perception may be opposite to reality, but it is owned by the perceiver. Influencing perceptions is a strategy that can support the success of a library. If researchers do not perceive that the library can help them achieve their goals, they will not use it; if administrators perceive that the library is not supporting the institutional mission, they will not fund it. Managing a library in which perceived value is struggling is challenging, especially for a solo librarian who recognizes that “I am the library, the library is me, and as such we are both judged.” Strategies to create positive perceptions include demonstrating commitment and relevance, which are often necessary to establish recognition of value. Perceptions may be formed at orientation and they can be made or unmade in a passing conversation with an administrator. Here we explore some strategies used at the Marine Resources Library in Charleston, South Carolina to demonstrate relevance and commitment, and to create a positive perception of the library’s worth to graduate students, professional researchers, and administrators.
Book chapterMicroplastic Pollution in the Library! A Collaborative Investigation into the Curious Case of a Crumbling Waterproof Field Guide( 2022-04-04) Timms, Geoffrey P.Synthetic paper is waterproof and durable, but the discovery of the crumbling synthetic paper pages of a 37-year-old waterproof library monograph raised concern both about its longevity and its potential to contribute to environmental pollution. The page substrate was identified as polypropylene, a polymer known to deteriorate over time and still widely used today. I alerted and surveyed libraries holding waterproof copies of the field guide and determined that over 50% of library copies have deteriorated, but at different rates. Statistically, the number of circulations is not a significant factor in predicting the extent of deterioration, suggesting that ambient environmental conditions and chemical transformations of the polymer are the leading initiators of the deterioration observed. While the specific phenomenon observed with this one book may be a relatively rare occurrence, the collection management implications of plastic materials found within library collections are also discussed.