Cathartic Weeding

I’m still adjusting to the different pace in my new position. After a few years of running on HIGH all the time, it’s taking more than a little getting used to. Also, there’s fact that it’s past the middle of the year, teachers are feeling overwhelmingly busy, and state testing dates are quickly approaching. So they aren’t exactly beating down the library door. The good thing is that I’m really getting a chance to make my changes and do my version of weeding. This library will be moving to a new school within the next year or so, and I don’t want to pack up and move the old junk. The librarian before me inherited a overwhelmingly junked up collection and did quite a lot of weeding (for which I am extremely grateful!).

cc photo by Rishabh Mishra (possible248)

I’m a pretty hardcore weeder, though. I actually attended middle school at CMS myself quite a few years ago, and I was even a student library worker there. There’s an embarrassing amount of material that was there when I was a student there. Heck, there are quite a few encyclopedias from before I was born. So a couple of things have happened in this world since I was born, right? Yeah, that’s what I thought. And, oh yeah, we have World Book Online now, along with quite a few databases that can give the same (but actually current) information. Needless to say, I’m getting rid of A LOT of outdated reference material. I actually feel guilty about this weeding, just because of the sheer bulk of it. I’ve also started going through the fiction section. Books that haven’t been touched since my district broke apart from another district 3.5 years ago. Books with weird looking, outdated technology or sci-fi things on the cover. No 13 year old in 2011 and beyond will consider reading this stuff. I should be able to donate a lot of it to the classrooms. The remainder will have to find its final resting place elsewhere.

So, friends, when did you finally let go of your old, dusty, outdated encyclopedias? Anyone else inherit a library with a similar collection? Are you like me, looking to keep up your collection by making sure it’s fresh (and not dated and moldy)? Weeding can be, overwhelming, stressful, and cathartic all at the same time…but it’s definitely a good thing!

5 thoughts on “Cathartic Weeding

  1. I inherited a library with titles like “The Team Behind Your Favorite Record” and “Early Morning Rounds” which told about the typical day of a doctor in 1980. Weeding was amusing and depressing at the same time. I discarded over 4,000 books. It was funny because I only heard comments like the library looks so big and bright now, never a comment about missing any books.

  2. Some of my favorite books growing up were much older than I was. The Dragonriders of Pern series, which is featured in 7th grade reading textbooks, was written in the 1960’s. Lloyd Alexander’s skeleton warriors freaked me out at 13. The Mushroom Planet was written in the 1950’s. I appreciate the need to weed, because there are so many mediocre books out there, but there is also a place for classic sci-fi and fantasy.

    One day, we will be weeding out Twilight books, and laughing at how popular it once was. My own daughter, at 13, hated the book. Of course, she had just fallen in love with Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and you just can’t compare a classic to fluff.

    1. I’m talking about those cheesy looking sci-fi books from the 80’s with computers of the future on the cover. Definitely not getting rid of the classics, although I will be replacing some of the more tattered copies with newer, shinier versions to attract more interest. I have nothing against books that are older than me, many of my favorites are as well. I’m just not a fan of having books that my students wouldn’t ever touch…I want the shelves to entice them!

  3. I know exactly what you’re going through. I inherited a library, where the previous librarian had been here for 30+ years. It was 1997 and I found books from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s still on the shelf. (RADIO PLAYS FOR CHILDREN is one of my favorite examples.)Yes, the shelves are emptier but students are able to find the new books, the things they want, much faster and easier. After being in this position over 15 years, I find that I’ve got to keep that attitude about weeding or I run the risk of letting the library’s collection fall back. As to the print encyclopedias — I agree with getting rid of them. I’ve kept two sets for students that don’t have Internet access at home (Yes there are some.) to check out, but find the only ones that do borrow them are the teachers from in-school suspension. Think I’ll just donate to the ISS room…

    So — Do you constantly weed throughout the year or pick a certain time of year to do the whole thing?

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