September 9, 2022

More On Ensuring Library Retention of Books by Local Authors

By admin

One of the initiatives we’ve tried to push on this site is ensuring that books by local authors stay on the shelves at the local library.

The policy the library follows simply consigns books to the list of to-be-removed-from-the-collection if they haven’t been borrowed in two years or more. Unless they are notable pieces of literature that a library should have.

None of our local authors fit that last part so we have to try and ensure that books by local authors get borrowed from time to time – hence the list elsewhere on this site.

I know that this policy of the library doesn’t sit well with some local authors who feel that books by locals should not only be kept but have their own space.

That’s not happening and until changes happen we have to live with it. To work with it.

To throw some perspective on this I’d like to point out the Case of the Missing Perry Mason Books.

I recently got a copy of a biography of Erle Stanley Gardner, the creator of Perry Mason amongst other characters.

I learned that he was the most published English language author of the 1st half of the 20th century in North America.

He wrote 131 fiction books totaling 325 million sold.

The Perry Mason books account for 82 of them. Perry Mason became the model for many TV lawyers.

Erle also wrote 29 mysteries under pseudonym A. A. Fair.

When I searched in our catalog for anything by him I found nothing.

We have NO books by him yet we have a number of books by Agatha Christie who was contemporary. I’d suspect there are other authors who were contemporaneous to Gardner whose books we still have as well.

Possibly Gardner’s start, and continued work, in pulp fiction trapped him in a place in the basement of the literary world while more ‘genteel’ authors like Christie have rooms upstairs. I won’t get into that for fear I’d be dumping more of my own attitude into it than useful history. Worth researching though . . .

Anyway – I’ve been reading a couple of his Perry Mason stories in a book I borrowed from the library in Nakusp through the Inter-Library Loan facility.

I like them.

I like the pacing.

I like the plot evolution. He had to learn how to plot – it wasn’t something he came by naturally.

I know they aren’t at all the same but they move along at a speed like Lee Child’s Reacher novels.

I bet Elmore Leonard found they fit his 10 rules fairly well.

Okay enough Gardner, back to the topic at hand: Keeping local authors’ books in the collection.

If a giant of the business of books can completely disappear from the shelves of our library 50 years after his death what hope is there for books written by local authors with nowhere near the readership or sales?

My answer: Their HOPE lays in your hands. Your actions. If you take these books out they won’t go away unless physically damaged beyond repair. That’s their only hope of staying on the shelves here. Visit our Library Books page to see which ones those are. You don’t have to read them if you don’t want to or have the time – just borrowing them is enough to save them from removal.

  • Les Johnson, Sept 2022