Tony Hine of the Canadian Numismatic Association published the following editorial in the June 2008 issue of the Canadian Numismatic Journal (Vol.53 No.5 p297) on the state of local coin club libraries. With permission we're reprinting it here. The article is Copyright © 2008 Tony Hine. -EditorIf you belong to a local coin club, and many CNA members do, you may have encountered frustration at trying to learn more. Many local coin clubs have libraries, or at least believe they do, however, they may not always be useful. Does anyone know where the library is? Sometimes it is a box of uncatalogued books in the trunk of a members car, sometimes it is a box in the past presidents basement. But if it is not catalogued and not protected from humidity, or if no one alive can remember when it was last seen, what good does it do?
Are books becoming obsolete, as my wife ardently believes, in the age of the Internet?
Will books soon become only an antique collectible?
I was recently trying to research some history related to a numismatic item. A good friend, and much better researcher than me, found out about a book on microfiche at the Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library. Trying to read it was an eye-opener. There is a microfiche reader with a printer on the fourth floor of the library, but even with librarian assistance, it was virtually impossible to get an almost legible copy. There are no facilities to digitize or scan the microfiche. Instead you must spend 15 cents per sheet to produce a barely legible copy and attempt to transcribe it into a document you can use.
Many of the pages have gaps or unreadable stretches. Once you have the document digitized, does the library have the ability to store it digitally? A good question, but they seem too intimidated by copyright bullies to consider such a solution.
The main conclusion I reached in my work is the tremendous value and utility of the CNA library; definitely a hidden but valuable perk of membership. I cannot commend CNA librarian Dan Gosling highly enough; he is invaluable to serious numismatic researchers, and very helpful even to dilettantes like this writer.
Are club libraries a thing of the past? Like any group asset or activity, its success largely depends on the initiative of one or more individuals. Left to committees, they suffer. My first club, the Western Pennsylvania Numismatic Society, once had a fine library (including a number of plated auction catalogs), but it was sold off decades ago. Other clubs I've been involved with declined to start libraries, knowing their typical fate.
As wedded as I am to electronic media, I certainly don't believe numismatic books are obsolete, nor do I think club libraries are a complete anachronism. But it is only through the efforts of dedicated individuals like Dan Gosling that they can survive and thrive, with or without electronic media.
THE BOOK BAZARRE
Wayne Homren, Editor
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