I no longer see book salespeople at the library. It's not because I'm mean, icky or horrid. I am just done.
In the halcyon days of my youth (well, young professional career, in any case), things were different. We did most work by hand: writing out overdues, book orders, hand cataloging, etc. We did have a slick little Gaylord check-out machine - we inserted the book card and it took a "bite" out of the card and stamped a date automatically (aaaah, technology). There was no online world and connectivity that showed us bookcovers or instant reviews if the journals hadn't routed to us yet.
When salespeople came, they brought actual books that we could look through and decide on...and not have to write order cards for. Time saving! The best ones brought news of colleagues and libraries from their routes. Good gossip!
But things have changed for us. Over the long years of my career I discovered a couple of things:
- we often over-purchased or brought more unneeded material when we were face-to-face chatting with a person than facing a silent page of book reviews.
- we found less need for prebound materials which were a big item in the catalog of salespeople. Prebound chapter books had bindings that long outlasted the tissue-thin, acidy paper; picture books with popular characters long outlasted the popularity - paperbacks lasted as long as the trend and we could buy 2-3 for the same price.
- there was a plethora of unreviewed and poorly reviewed material and remainders that turned out to be shelf-sitters with our families.
- with our ordering on-line, automated payments and invoicing, access to good discounts through jobbers, ability to "see" materials virtually and read reviews online and overall automation, buying from salespeople created way more staff work than we could justify.
I know. I wish it were different. To me, it mirrors the struggles of where print books and econtent are going. One is phasing out while the other is in ascendence. It makes me sad. But it is library life.
Image: 'Ojos Grandes' http://www.flickr.com/photos/62237714@N00/277389539