Tuesday, October 15, 2013

On weeding

An overarching theme of my librarianship thus far seems to be that I over-think everything. Every book checked out, every cataloging decision, every picture book I read aloud I’m convinced has absolutely legendary potential to shape the future of the world as we know it.

That’s slightly hyperbolic, of course, but I do spend a lot of mental energy on weeding. I worry that the second I discard an ancient, never-before-circulated book on, I don’t know, counting to ten using root vegetables, I’m convinced that that will be the one book to save the day tomorrow, there being an endless capacity for root-vegetable-counting crises in an elementary school. Which is why I’m completely in love with this blog: http://awfullibrarybooks.net/category/for-the-kids/. Where I would agonize over deleting every title, they just nonchalantly say, “Nooope.” Also, it’s hilarious. It looks like the last submission was in 2010, alas, but I only just learned about it.

But I’m asking a question of you, HVLA: how do you determine what to weed? We all have limited space (my library is exceptionally small), and not every book is going to circulate as many times as, say, “Smile,” or “Grossology” (to use two examples from my library). Another thing constantly on my mind is the needs of my specific community, and how nonjudgmental collection development interacts with an educational agenda. I know weeding is both an art and a science, and I’d love to hear some of your stories.


  1. Coincidentally, my colleague Laura Lutz (Sacred Heart) and I just recently did a weeding presentation for Suffolk County library system. We leaned heavily on the principles of the CREW manual: https://www.tsl.state.tx.us/ld/pubs/crew/index.html and the advice of how to edit your closet from What Not to Wear: ) http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/what-not-to-wear

  2. This is something I struggle with too. An unforeseen issue that is tricky for me is the age of our library (specifically our picture books). We have been collecting titles for so long that now I want to keep them BECAUSE they're old. These 40+ year old picture books represent another time and another form of image making. A culturally insensitive picture book from 1962 about cowboys and Indians can obviously go. But some titles represent a different way of book making and illustrating. They are beautiful objects...even though my students may not want to take them out.

  3. I had the same issue and started an archive collection in my director's office.