Dust Jackets

Do you scratch your head over the decision libraries make to keep or discard the dust jackets that come with their circulating books? Public libraries seem more inclined to keep the dust jackets of the books on their shelves, choosing to protect them with a mylar cover of sorts, whereas academic libraries usually remove the jackets. However, even within the same library and the same collection/range of call numbers, some books will be jacketed while others are found naked. What explains such disparity other can sheer randomness and ad hoc decisions?

Jacket, jacket, no!

The general principles are discernible enough: jackets are fragile and extra care is needed to keep the right jackets with the right books. Some libraries reasonably don’t want to expend the additional resources and so choose not to keep the book jackets; others may decide that the jackets add enough information and pull for their patrons to justify the expense. Even given a general framework, uniformity may not be achieved due to the number of vendors, selectors, and other hands involved and the time it takes to build collections.

Is that all? A miscommunication here, an oversight there, a decision by one person to keep a particularly striking jacket on a book but tossing the rest? Is there no more pattern to be discerned, no other rationale to be offered, no reason to stand in place of randomness?

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