Ocassionally, weeding is one of my duties at the library, and it's a tough one for me. I find it hard to select which books to get rid of, but at the moment our shelves are overflowing and new books keep arriving, so it's a necessary evil. I am interested in hearing from other librarians, or those of you with large home libraries, about how you make these difficult cuts. Below is an article I wrote for the local newspaper, asking for input from our patrons and now I'm asking for your recommendations as well. What criteria do you use or would you like your library to use for doling out that precious shelf space?
Naturally, we here at the library love books….mysteries, westerns, romances, science fiction (ok, maybe not so much on the science fiction, but we’re trying), self-help, how-to, biographies, poetry , suspense... we love them all. We get excited about new releases from bestselling authors. We can’t wait to get the books you request. We inspect the bestseller lists in search of hot trends and interesting new authors. We wander the aisles of Barnes and Noble to make sure we haven’t missed anything, and we read as fast as we can so we can give you informed recommendations.
Unfortunately, though our love of books is limitless, our space is not. So on occasion it becomes necessary to part with some of our old friends to make a place for the new. Seems simple, right? Just pull off the books that are outdated, worn, stained, ripped or just plain bad – and at times it IS that simple. A book on computer programming from 1987 is an obvious candidate for weeding, but most choices are much more complicated.
Is that book worn and stained because it has been read frequently? Is it part of a series? Do we need all the early works of an author – before they became popular? Is the novel that hasn’t been checked out since 1974 trash or a hidden treasure? What about the classics? Does anyone read them anymore? Am I weeding this novel just because it’s not my personal cup of tea? (If so, the Science Fiction section truly is in danger of extinction.) How about non-fiction works which voice an opinion contrary to my personal beliefs? There are lots of tough calls in the weeding business.
Over the next few months, we will be weeding various sections of the library and we need your help. As they say on ESPN, “YOU make the call.” A cart of books destined for the book sale or the budget shop will be displayed near the front desk. We want you to look them over and tell us if you agree with our selections or if we’re overlooking a gem. These items were all purchased with your tax dollars, so your ideas matter. The books displayed will change approximately every other week, so keep watching to make sure we’re not weeding your favorites. This is your chance to “ read ‘em before we weed ‘em.”*
* - Not my original line, so feel free to use it in your own library if you choose.