I have been an enthusiastic patron of Prince Edward Island’s Public Library Service for more than 20 years, but I didn’t learn until this weekend that it had what’s called a “floating collection.”
On Saturday, Oliver and I traveled up to Summerside to see the new Inspire Learning Centre, and, because the collection is so well-displayed, I quickly found some books I wanted to borrow:
Except I wasn’t sure this was allowed: could I, a Charlottetowner, borrow Summerside books and, what’s more, could I return then to Charlottetown?
“Yes!”, the enthusiastic librarian an l at the checkout desk told me.
And—here’s the floating bit—the books I borrow and return to Charlottetown will stay in Charlottetown.
I’d always imagined that each library branch had its own collection and that there was a complicated scheme for returning them “home” if they left. But there isn’t: the books float from branch to branch organically.
This raises two interesting possibilities:
First, if one could get anonymized data on the flow of books from branch to branch, maps of “interest flow” could be drawn. That would be cool.
And, because we all have the power, through our borrowing and returning, to change books’ locations, it’s possible to influence that same interest flow. If I want to increase chainsaw literacy in Cornwall, or tip the discussion of early English drama in Tignish, I simply need to borrow-and-transfer the right books.