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Hancock joins library trend, deletes tapes


Carol Dunn, audio-visual manager, arranges audio cassettes to be sold for a quarter apiece as the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library gets rid of them.

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FINDLAY - Like vinyl records and eight-track tapes before them, music cassettes soon will be extinct at the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library.

“It's just getting to the point where they're wasting shelf space, and at the library, shelf space is always the No. 1 most important thing,” said Carol Dunn, audio-visual manager.

Librarians will begin next week to withdraw the library's 2,831 or so music cassettes from the card catalog. All will be moved downstairs to the Book Cellar - a used bookstore run by the Friends of the Library - for sale at 25 cents apiece.

“We did a survey first to make sure it was OK with the patrons,” Ms. Dunn said. “For the entire month of November, we asked people to fill out a form to see if they minded, and 90 percent said, `No, feel free to withdraw them.' We got comments like, add more compact discs.”

Circulation records certainly backed up the decision. In November, for example, Findlay patrons checked out 294 music cassettes and 4,625 compact discs.

Findlay is not the first library to eliminate music cassettes.

In Bowling Green, the Wood County District Public Library got rid of its music cassettes a couple years ago because the demand for them had dwindled.

Library Director Elaine Paulette said she couldn't even remember what year the library got rid of its vinyl record collection, but she did recall it was a tougher decision than getting rid of cassettes.

“That was a pretty big decision because they'd always been around,” she said. “It was a standard. How could records go away?”

Ms. Paulette said libraries frequently make decisions about what to keep, add, or delete from their collections.

“We each respond to our local communities so when we see a trend we sort of monitor it,” she said.

Lesley McKinstry said she was shocked when she took a job as director of the North Baltimore Public Library in July, 2000, and found it still had a room full of vinyl records. The library subsequently eliminated music cassettes and just two months ago shipped its record collection to an area thrift shop.

“We have a nice-sized collection of DVDs for a library of our size so we have kind of joined the 21st century,” she said with a laugh.

The Main Toledo-Lucas County Public Library still has more than 8,000 music cassettes and plans to keep them - for now.

“They are on the wane,” said John Selzer, manager of the audio-visual department. “They are not checking out nearly as well as they used to, but we do still circulate enough to keep them in the collection. We are currently debating whether to continue ordering them.”

More than 1,000 music cassettes were checked out in November compared to about 6,000 compact discs, he said.

The downtown Toledo library sold its record collection a few years ago, Mr. Selzer said. The library never had the short-lived eight-track tape in its collection.

“It's kind of like beta,” he said. “We made a good choice and decided betavision cassettes wouldn't catch on. We stayed away from laser discs too. We were early in getting into DVDs and those are just going gangbusters.”

Findlay's Ms. Dunn, an audio-visual librarian for 20 years, said she is scheduled to make a presentation entitled, “Dead and dying audio-visual formats” at several library conferences in the spring. She'll talk about music cassettes and bring along “a few old laser discs and eight-track tapes just to get the crowd interested.”

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