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Library and Information Science Paper (ID LIS068085)

Libraries and Librarians Perspectives on the Handling of Pseudoscience Books: Interviews with Librarians
No.68, p.85-116
Issue date

Purpose: Pseudoscience, which mimics science but is not ʻtrueʼ science, has been increasingly criticized by scientists or science communicators. Many libraries may struggle to handle books that conflict with valid scientific rationality. This study empirically examined the handling of such ʻdifficultʼ books at public libraries.

Method: From October 2009 to February 2010, semi-structured interview surveys were conducted at six large and three small public libraries in Japan. The librarians responsible for book selection at libraries were asked nine questions on book selection, purchase requests from users, library cooperation and so on.

Results: The following results were obtained: (1) library collection development is largely dependent on classification numbers described in catalogs for book selection, and therefore, ʻdifficultʼ books have been placed on the shelves of science if a classification number indicating a scientific field is assigned to such a book. (2) In a well-funded library, its librarian may assume that other small libraries hope that it will purchase ʻdifficultʼ books for the library. (3) Even if a librarian be-

lieves that ʻdifficultʼ books should be held in the library, he or she may personally feel that such books are not desirable, which leads to the so-called ʻbattle of shelfʼ, and place them in closed stacks. (4) The views on ʻdifficultʼ books vary between large and small libraries. Large libraries may consider their existence on the shelf to be a problem, whereas librarians in small libraries tend to regard that pseudoscience books can help to raise the literacy of users and diversify the library collection.

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