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Weeding

November 7, 2011

Kind of a lightweight topic, but I’m still very much sick here.

Weeding, the removal of books from the library collection, is incredibly difficult for me.  I would assume it is for most new librarians.  You think, More is better!  More means more for the kids to choose from!  Some of these books are out of print!  But the reality of it is, some books aren’t meant to be in the collection anymore.

I have many criteria for weeding.  Most likely I learned it all in grad school, but I certainly didn’t remember a bit of it when I sat down to start weeding for the first time.  It goes a little something like this:

-Is the book written in?

-Does the book have torn pages?

-Has the book been mended in the past?

-Is the book yellowed by age?

-Is the book stained in some way?

-Is it filled with out of date information?

-Is it relevant to the collection?

-When was it last checked out?

-How many checkouts has it had altogether?

-How many copies do we have in the system?

When it comes to the actual appearance of the book, there are certain things I’ll let stay.  Usually, I say, if you’ve got two of the five problem areas (scribbling, torn, taped up, stains, yellowed), you’re out.  I sometimes tolerate scribbles on the first and last pages of the book if there’s no writing inside the book, but it really depends on the book.  I’m terrible like that.  I know I should weed it, and yet…

It’s especially difficult now, since we’re done our ordering for the year.  If I get rid of something right now, we won’t get a replacement (if there’s a replacement to be had) for several months.  That’s not good for anyone.  But the flipside of that is that if kids see writing in a book, they sometimes think they can do it too.  It happens.

I’m sure I’m a terrible weeder, and yet I keep going, because I have to.  Weeding is not just important, it’s something we’re schedule to do every month.  Getting new copies of worn, torn books is pretty awesome.  Finding a book in terrible condition and knowing that it’s pretty cool and yet we can’t order another copy is a bit heartbreaking.  I’m sure I’ll stop being a bleeding heart weeder eventually.  That time just isn’t now.

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