I thought of a cool idea for a job (for me)- owning and running a private membership-based library. Public libraries are no longer the huge book collections they used to be, and it is labor-intensive to keep large private collections. I was thinking about how I want to read all of Andre Norton’s books, and all of Stephen King’s books, and Clive Cussler, Frank Herbert, Connie Willis, James Michener, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, etc. No public or university library has ever had complete collections of such authors, and using ILL (inter-library loan) systems means waiting as long as a week or more for a book, which means if you were looking for Children of Dune (Book #3 of the Dune series) today, as I would be, and it was not at the library (it isn’t), your only hope is to either find a place to buy it, order it online, or request it on the ILL system. In any case either you run around town looking for it and spend some cash on it, or you won’t be reading that book today. I know it is not a very long book, and it is one I don’t probably want to own permanently, so I’d much rather just borrow it for a few days. It will only take at most 2 days for me to read it, anyway. If I didn’t move so often I would just keep a huge book collection, and I used to own a copy of Children of Dune years ago. If I had access to the sort of author-comprehensive book collection I am thinking about running, I could borrow it from such a collection, just as I would from a public library. For a reasonable monthly membership fee, I could have access to all those books, kept clean, organized, shelved, and replaced as needed, probably with a cosy reading room as well to hang out and chat with other members about books, or just to read in a nice comfy chair away from the kids, pets and chores.
Advantages over public libraries- This sort of library would have fewer patrons, so fewer stolen/lost/damaged books. Often public libraries show on their computer system that they have more books than they really have available because books get mis-shelved, or they are being repaired in some back room, or they were stolen and the system hasn’t been changed to reflect the loss. Part of my job in this private library would be to replace missing or damaged copies of books so that the collection would remain complete. I could also research authors and keep the library up to date by adding new books and newly translated books as they become available. Another benefit to such a library is that I could specialize easier, adding new authors and topics as members request them. I would also have a local (Colorado) authors section, with complete collections of each author and biographical info on each author on display. I could contact local presses and add books by emerging and lesser-known local authors, and the space would be great for book signings and book-talks when new books are published.
And, since I would accept book donations and cycle out worn copies of books in the collection, I would also have a small used book shop which would help support the library financially while providing a great source of affordable used books for the community, not just the library’s members. I think this is a brilliant idea. What do you think?