Weeding is sometimes seen as a “touchy subject” for librarians. There aren’t many touchy subjects for us, but I would venture to say that weeding is definitely one of them. Some librarians would rather spend an entire day picking a splinter from their big toe than weed books from their library, and there are librarians who absolutely love to weed. I tend to fall in the second category. I equate it to maintaining a clothing collection: Sometimes the older things need to go in order to make room for newer things, and once that closet gets too full, I know it’s time to get rid of some items. Also, much like having to pay bills every month, it’s a necessary thing to weed every now and then.
A few weeks ago, I finished a major weeding of my entire nonfiction section. I know it is the standard to weed some sections at a time, but a had a few reasons:
- Nonfiction hadn’t been weeded in QUITE some time.
- We were running out of space on our shelves!
- I didn’t quite know which sections to “beef up” because the shelves were so full!
- Having only been at my school for a year and a half, I wanted to be able to put my hands on every book in my library and see what was being used and what wasn’t. (and what I didn’t know was on our shelves!)
- Our school is being renovated in a year or so, and I only want to pack up and move books & resources that are updated and/or still being used.
So starting in October, I began The Great Weeding of 2015-2016. I wrote out my criteria for determining if a book should be weeded, and enlisted the help of my parent volunteers, whom I showed where to find the copyright year; I asked them to pull any books with a copyright date of 2005 or earlier. Man, did they fill up some carts! (mind you, it wasn’t all at the same time. It was probably once or twice a week, one volunteer at a time, for an hour or so). Then, I scanned each book on the cart into our system, which was able to tell me when the book was created in the system, the last date of checkout, and how many total checkouts it had. Some books I scanned were older, but the information hadn’t changed recently, and were checked out just about every year. So those were kept. The majority, however, were not. Some had been sitting on the shelves and hadn’t been checked out since 1995! (As an aside, my students were born in 2004 or 2005). Those ones were ditched, for sure.
Below is the rationale that I wrote up before beginning this process. I did this so that I knew, going in, what my main intentions were and what the outcomes I wanted to be. It also helped keep me accountable so I had a standard to go by (and something on paper if anyone asked what I was doing, and why!).
So, with the rationale in hand, some willing volunteers, and plenty of paper boxes for the discards, we embarked on The Great Weeding of 2015-2016. I will admit, there were a few that were hard to get rid of, but at the end of the entire process, I felt like a new human being (and extremely accomplished!). I took a collection of over 15,000 items (fiction and nonfiction) and, not including about 1600 new purchases, effectively reduced it to just over 13,000 items.
See below for some photos.
It looks SO much better! It was also a chance to wipe down entire shelves, which hadn’t been done in YEARS. We’ve gotten so much positive response from students, staff, and our volunteers. There was a bit of resistance, though, when some staff thought we were getting rid of books they actually used. I was very quick to pull out the Weeding Rationale and point out the books their subject touched were still on the (now wiped clean!) shelves.
Look for my next post, which is part 2 of The Great Weeding of 2015-2016. It will talk about why weeding is necessary – and beneficial! – and how the new space was received (in detail) by our students and staff.
So stay tuned! 🙂