"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Libraries 101: Adventures in "weeding"

Weeding definition: 
Weeding is the removing of materials from 
a library collection in a systematic and 
deliberate way. It is an ongoing part of 
collection development, a planned and 
thoughtful action that will ensure library 
materials are current and enticing.
-California Department of Educaiton

Every school year we are required to inventory our whole school  library, all the school's technology, and the textbook repository. It is a big job. But every year it gets easier IF we are organized the year before. This year, as usual, I am using my inventory time as an opportunity to also weed the library of old, out-of-date, undesirable, or inappropriate books. Here are a few of this year's highlights (lowlights) I call Adventures in Weeding:
  • I moved all the reference materials in amongst the regular nonfiction. The Reference section was never used and this way students will possibly use the materials if they see them among the other books on their research topic. This was a huge task because it required that I move nearly all the nonfiction books to reconfigure the space required. It took me weeks and required a trip or two to the chiropractor.  While sorting through books I weeded out eight boxes of dated materials.
  • Students like to hide things behind the books.  Last year I found a carton of milk 3 months out of date.  It was very swollen, but fortunately hadn't burst. This year I found an orange which was shrunk down to 1/4th its normal size and a huge glob of chewing tobacco. You know that stuff wasn't just inadvertently placed there.  Ugh.
  • When my library opened someone decided to place the barcodes on the back of the books on the right corner and I didn't know any better to stop them.  Bad idea. The barcodes obscure the information about the plot on over half the books.  See photo. As I inventory a section I also put aside books with obscuring barcodes and reposition them. I work on that task when I can't be out in the library scanning titles because I have to work the circulation desk. It slows thing down, but I keep reminding myself how nice things will be next year.
See how the barcodes obscure the blurb on the back of the book? Talk about irritating. I am now attempting to reposition these barcodes but it is a big job and takes a lot of time.

  • The gal who selected my opening day collection was a big Sci-Fi and Fantasy fan so she ordered a lot of these genres. As I move along through the shelves I started noticing books in a series, many I have no idea which books comes first. I pull them out and set them aside for a little extra research.  If I don't have sequential books in a series, they get weeded. Today I found two books from one series, the first and the nineteenth. My library has been open for eight years and I finally noticed. Shame on me.  Instead of adding the missing books, out these two go.
  • I have no idea what to do when famous author's works seem dated.  Please offer your advice.  For example today I scanned a book by Robert Heinlein, a famous Sci-Fi author.  The blurb on the back of the book talked about time travel back from the year 2000.  Wait, did I read that right? Year 2000? I checked the copyright date, 1957. Ah, no wonder 2000 seemed so far in the future.  But won't this be a turnoff for students who were just toddlers in 2000.  What would you do? Weed or no?
  • May Contest.  While scanning booksfor the inventory I notice titles that haven't circulated for a while (or ever.) These books should be culprits for immediate dismissal (weeded.) However, many of them are in great shape and look interesting so I decided to host a little contest.  These lowly books are now displayed on the top of the shelves with orange bookmarks   If students check out one of these "special" books they are entered into the May contest. Prizes will be awarded to ten or so students at the end of the month.  So far around 50 of these books have circulated and it is only May 9th, so I should triple that number. And I think I've found a series that is going to be really popular with the hunting/fishing type of boy. It has been hiding on the shelves all these years. Score! 
  • Please share your adventures in weeding in the comment section.
  • May your library garden grow strong and beautiful now that it is weed free!


  1. We are also doing a HUGE weed of our library. We have a back room that is a magnet for students who want to hide out so we're trying to weed enough books to empty out that section and use it for something else.

    I think it is fair game to weed famous authors if the book isn't being read. There is guilt involved, but if not one is reading it, they won't know it's gone!

    1. You have a back room that is part of your library? My back room is full of textbooks and students are only allowed in with permission. No wonder you are cleaning it out. Lots of hankie-pankie probably happens in there. So you are doing the big shift also to make room for the books you are keeping from that room. It is hard work. I don't envy you.

  2. I keep books in a series even if I don't have all of them, if the series is popular. But, we have excellent inter-library loan, so I can always get the missing books if someone wants it.

    Also, I do keep classic authors like Heinlein. Not every one of his books, but at least a sample, if they are still in good condition. I like recommending a classic author to kids once in a while.

    It all has to do with space, of course. You certainly need to make room for new stuff. And, I really like my shelves to look "nice." I hate old crusty books shelved next to my shiny new books!

    Great thoughts!

    1. I went ahead and kept the Heinlein but will keep my eye on it. If I read more Sci-Fi myself I'd be a better judge of what is good and should be kept and what is not worthy of keeping.

  3. Wow, what a job!! Sounds like a lot of work, but it also sounds like you are a fabulous librarian who really cares about the books and the kids (not that I expected anything different from you ;) ).

    Don't you dare get rid of Heinlein! Classic sci fi - that is good stuff, man. While my son was in high school, he enjoyed reading many of my husband's old Heinlein paperbacks. These books may have been written a long time ago, but such good writing never really goes out of style.

    Keep up the good work!


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