I’ve been commanded to weed the Bs in our main reference room. The good thing is it gives me something to do at the reference desk. I’m finding it relatively easy to move out some things–e.g., the New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, which I just found is digitized anyway, or the Reallexikon fur Antike und Christentum–that I’m pretty sure are rarely, if ever, consulted here, and are quite old for reference books. Our library has subject study rooms with reference materials, and anyone likely to consult the Reallexikon fur Antike und Christentum will also probably have a key to the religion study room.
My main questions are about all those specialized reference books, things like the Encyclopedia of Hell or the Historical Dictionary of Taoism. In a reference room tight on space, how specialized can a reference book be before it can safely go out to the circulating stacks. If the multi-volume Encyclopedia of Buddhism is on the shelf, can I let the Popular Dictionary of Buddhism fly and be free? Do I need ready access to four different encyclopedias of Hinduism? Or multi-volume encyclopedias of philosophy in four different languages? And if all the big sets and the main encyclopedias are available, why bother with the single volume specialized works?
Should I keep reference works that I’m almost positive no one is going to consult just because I like to have them there, even though I don’t consult them, either. Some old sets just seem like they belong, even if they’re quite dated. The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics comes to mind. That could easily live elsewhere, but it just feels right on the shelf to me. My feelings on the matter, may, as usual, have to be sacrificed.
Oh well, no time to ponder further. I’ve been asked if I can get this done before ALA. I should have asked whether she meant Annual or next Midwinter.