Thursday, September 5, 2013

Weeding... yuck.

Image from Houston Public Library System

Last spring I attended the Library of Michigan's Beginning Workshop. I had only been on the job for about 6 weeks, so I learned a ton of stuff! (If you're in Michigan and haven't gone to BW yet, DO IT. There were people in attendance who've been in their job for over a decade and this was their first workshop. If you live somewhere else, check out your state's library and hopefully they offer something like this too! It was an amazing three days!!)

One of the sessions was called "Weed 'Em and Weep! Hoarding is Not Collection Management" by Holly Hibner. So many parts of the 45-minute talk struck me, and I was determined to come back to my own collection of children's books and be a ruthless weeder.

After the craziness of Summer Reading settled down, I finally took a look at my collection, gathered book carts and lists of what hadn't circulated in the last five years, and dove in.


It obviously hasn't happened in the children's area for a loooong time. I filled my first cart with EJ picture books just from authors A-B. I filled my second cart with non-fiction from 000-300. I filled another half cart just with the early 600s (medical stuff). And just today I filled yet another cart with EJ picture books from authors T-Z (there is a method to my "random" pulling, trust me).

Yuck #1: Some of the books I've pulled are simply disgusting. Nothing as bad as the photo Holly showed us during her presentation (with mold growing in it), but I definitely am in need of a good hand washing after pulling a cart-full.

Yuck #2: I mostly am just pulling books that look bad, especially in the EJ's. Yet I feel like I'm leaving so many on the shelf that are simply old and no one will read them anyway... And part of me looks at the series of Clifford books and cringes -- at the condition of the books -- but wants to keep them because come on. It's Clifford. Ugh. It's tough deciding what to keep and what to weed.

Yuck #3: I wish money grew on trees. We're a small memorial library, so our book budget consists of whatever donations and memorials come in. So in any given month I have to decide between ordering the newest Magic Treehouse book or a replacement of a well-loved Dr. Seuss book.

The things I learned at Beginning Workshop are so much easier said than done. Things like:
  • "A good library is like a good haircut. It's not what you cut, it's what you leave." -Anne Felix
  • "Having nothing is better than having yucky something." -Holly Hibner
  • "Lack of funds to replace outdated or worn items is never an excuse for not weeding." -the CREW method manual
  • "Put yourself in your patron's shoes. Build their trust with a useful collection." -Holly Hibner

How does your library do at weeding? Any good strategies or recommendations?

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