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Railroad books back on the shelf at library

By: Carol Percy, Reporter
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Railroad history buffs may be happy to learn that a collection of railroad history books has been returned to local library shelves as of this week.
That’s according to Placer County Library director of services Mary George.
A collection of “dozens” of books was removed from shelves at the Colfax Library for a few days last week, “causing an upset” among the city’s railroad aficionados, according to railroad enthusiast and Colfax resident Gunnar Henrioulle.
The books, purchased in part, with a $2,000 grant from the Union Pacific Railroad, were boxed up by Colfax librarians Dec. 12 to be shipped to Better World Books, an online bookstore based in Indiana, according to Henrioulle.
Henrioulle said that Colfax librarian Amy Toepfer told him that she removed the reference books from the shelves to make room for “higher traffic books.”
“Amy said the railroad books represent one percent of the library’s shelf space and that people weren’t checking them out much,” Henrioulle said.
A former railroad equipment buyer and seller, Henrioulle said that Colfax “is a town steeped in railroad history” and “it seems a crime” that space could not be found for them. The reference books are a valuable source of historical material, according to Henrioulle.
“This is a source of heartburn to me and others trying to do historical renovations and exhibits,” Henrioulle said.
Last week, Toepfer declined to comment on the status of the books.
“You’ll need to call library administration (Placer County Library) for any further comments,” Toepfer said.
A Placer County Library employee who asked not to be named said that Toepfer was following the county’s “collection development policy” when she removed the railroad books from library shelves.
Due to limited shelf space, librarians are required to shift book inventory according to usage. Libraries have a “dynamic shifting collection” policy. They look at what people want and what they use, the library employee said.
The employee also said that the railroad books contained general subject matter, were not specific to Colfax history and were not valuable collector’s editions.
Placer County Library director of services George said last week that some books will be returned to the Colfax Library.
“I believe we have resolved this issue,” George said. “We identified 16 books that will be placed back into the collection and kept in a glass display case until they can be transferred to the train museum library (in Colfax).”
The Colfax Library is located at West Church and South Main streets in downtown Colfax.
For more information, call 346-8211.