THE BEST -- OR JUST THE REST?
By Joan Bartram,
As part of 1999's millennium madness, I compared several of the “best books of the century” lists with the McKillop Library book collection. This was done for fun and to see if the library did have the books that various groups of people considered the "best of the century." I looked in detail at four lists. One was the Random House/Modern Library selection of 100 non-fiction titles, as well as their list of 100 fiction titles, both of which received a lot of negative press. In addition, I checked the list of 150 fiction titles prepared by librarians and a list of 100 titles developed at the Radcliffe Summer Publishing Institute. The Random House list was touted as being the list that one should have read, while the librarians’ list, published in Library Journal, was considered a list of books actually read. The list from the Radcliffe Summer Institute reflected the point of view of a "younger" generation. Random House did some well-publicized backtracking and published a second fiction list based on reader comments.
What is the point of these lists and do they really matter for us? Lists of this type are cultural markers. They are a way for us to connect to our time and place, and they make a statement about who we are. In addition to reviewing book lists, I reviewed other types of “best of the century” lists. Taking a look at the list of "Rhode Island High School Athletes" in a recent Providence Sunday Journal and Channel 10's five greatest storms of the century, it is interesting to note that we rate the “best” within our own lifetime and our individual experiences. As a 1960 graduate of a Rhode Island public high school, I recognized the names of only four of the "greatest athletes" while a family octogenarian didn't know any of them. Did you know that all of the great storms of the century happened after 1938 and the worst two were in the 1990's? This tells us more about the demographics of Channel 10 weather watchers than it does about the weather! The booklists reflect the same type of shared experiences--they are valuable because they are common to many of us. They are a quick way of checking how reflective our library collection is of late twentieth century culture.
How do the lists vary and where are they the same? A one-title demonstration will serve as an example. Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird was number one on the Library Journal list, number five on the Random House reader's list, number four on the Radcliffe list and did not appear on the "official" Random House list. This variation is typical of moving from list to list.
Forty of the titles on the Library Journal list had been translated into film including To Kill a Mockingbird.
So how does McKillop Library rate? The Random House/Modern Library lists contained 100 titles of non-fiction, many of which were required undergraduate reading in previous generations. The library held 81 titles. The fiction titles from Random House contained a "board list" and a reader's list. We had 93 of the "Board " list; this is the list that was so heavily criticized in the press. The library collection has 72 of the 100 reader's titles; this pointed up our weakness in science fiction and fantasy titles. The librarian's list of 150 fiction titles found 131 or 89% on our shelves. The Radcliffe list, more contemporary in its selections, had 92 of 100 representatives here in the library.
Interestingly enough, many of the titles appear, not only on these lists, but also on most of the academic lists of titles we regularly check for collection development as well. We will purchase the missing titles from these lists, as they will give us a snapshot of popular culture at the end of the century.
(Editor’s note. The Random House lists may be viewed at http://www.randomhouse.com/modernlibrary/100best/. The Radcliffe list was published by Maureen Dezell, “Students’ 100 has More Novel Choices,” The Boston Globe, 21 Jul. 1998, city ed.: E1. and the Library Journal list is in “Librarians Choose a Century of Good Books,” Library Journal 123, no. 19 (1998): 34-36.)
INTERLIBRARY LOAN UPDATE
By John Lewis, Reference Department
and Christine Saad, Circulation Department
There have been quite a few changes in Interlibrary Loan services over the past year. This article will update McKillop Library users on the many Interlibrary Loan (ILL) services now available.
Technically, requesting material from another HELIN library is not interlibrary loan. However, this distinction doesn't make sense to most library users so we'll discuss it here. Before joining the Higher Education Library Information Network (HELIN), if a student wanted a book or article from another institution, s/he went through Interlibrary Loan. This process included filling out an ILL form, submitting it electronically or handing a completed “yellow form” to the Reference staff and waiting at least two weeks for the material to arrive. With HELIN, getting a book may now take only 48 hours. Since becoming a member, we now have direct access to the collections of six other RI academic libraries. If you find a book you’d like in the HELIN on-line catalog, simply use the request button. Books ordered by way of HELIN generally arrive within 48 hours.
Interlibrary loan requests are now available online through the McKillop Library home page. Now there is no need to come to the library to fill out numerous yellow forms. ILL can be performed from your home or office. Click Interlibrary Loan on the McKillop Library web page. Then click on the proper form under Online Request Forms. Try to fill out as much of the form as possible. Make sure to fill in the "Cancel if not filled by" date. This is the date after which you would no longer need the book. Click Submit this Request. Your ILL request is sent to the Interlibrary Loan Librarian for processing.
Request JOSIAH or CLAN books:
Now you can search the JOSIAH (Brown University) or CLAN (RI Public Libraries) catalogs and request any books found through ILL. Click Interlibrary Loan on the McKillop Library web page. Then click on either Search CLAN or Search JOSIAH. Search the catalog as normal. To get a book click on the Request button. Then give your name and library barcode. Also fill in the "Cancel if not filled by" date. Please be aware that, although these materials are in other Rhode Island libraries, it may still take two weeks to get them through ILL.
Request WorldCat books:
If you want to look for books in libraries throughout the U.S., search the WorldCat database. Click Interlibrary Loan on the McKillop Library web page. Then click on Search WorldCat. You can search WorldCat by author, title, or subject. When you have found a book you want click on the Request button. Then give your name and library barcode. Also fill in the "cancel if not filled by" date. Then click on Submit this Request. Your ILL request will be forwarded to the Interlibrary Loan Librarian for processing.
Request ArticleFirst articles:
On the Interlibrary Loan page you can also request an article using the ArticleFirst database. Click on Search ArticleFirst. Then search the database. Any article found can be obtained through ILL. Click on the Request button. Then give your name and library barcode. Also fill in the "cancel if not filled by" date. Finally, click Submit this Request.
Check ILL status:
Now it is easy to check on the status of your interlibrary loan request. To view the status of an Interlibrary Loan request, click Interlibrary Loan on the McKillop Library web page. Then click View Status of your ILL Request. Enter your name and library barcode. Both ILL requests and books checked out from the HELIN system will be listed under your record.