Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Weeding, or things that make me very sad

One of my parent volunteers was in yesterday and asked what she should do. I said "It's that time of year again. We need to look at weeding." "No, we don't," she scoffed. "There can't possibly be anything LEFT. I've been weeding here for six years!"

I turned and pulled a suspiciously faded book on Hinduism off the shelf. 1979. Is there anything that was published in 1979 that is still current?

Well, except for Cross Country Runner (1975). And My Robot Buddy (1977), which I just bought a copy of on because our library copy is always out and quickly being reduced to glue and tape.

The point being is that I am absolutely not opposed to old titles. Some old titles I adore. They circulate all the time. Students love them. That Cross Country Runner still has reserves on it.

What I had to look at yesterday was books that have NOT been circulating. Books that are taking up valuable room on the shelves. That are dusty. That smell. Yes, since we had a sculptor in the library (more later) and it was a weirdly busy-then-not-busy day, I spent a lot of the day SMELLING BOOKS. The ones that appear at the top of this post? Ponging. Or, as one of my students said "Not a bad smell exactly, just like my grandmother's house."

I love Up a Road Slowly, but no one has checked it out since 1997. Not only that, but the back cover is barely attached. It just looks sad. I tried to get children to check them out, but the only luck I had was with Alias Madame Doubtfire and the saddest copy of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang you have ever seen. I only got someone to check that out because I told them the book was older than I am!

If only for hygienic reasons, these books need to go. But it's hard. It's like ripping little bits off of my soul. I can weed nonfiction fairly easily, but fiction requires the help of understanding volunteers to hold my hand... after they have ripped books from it. It helps if they then hand me a tissue.

Do I need to get out more, or is this a fairly common reaction to weeding?


  1. I think you are experiencing a common reaction to weeding out books, especially old favs. I feel the same way when I weed out books from my personal library, even though they get donated to my library's used book store for others to enjoy.
    Still, it is hard to say good-bye.

  2. It's not unusual. We're going through our reference section right now (I work at a public library), but I'm not really attached to these books. They need to go anyway (these are geography books-we received money from our Rotary Club for geography books). I recently read Across Five Aprils because I'm going through the Newberys-the story is excellent, but it is quite dense. It has a very high Accelerated Reader count, from what I remember.

  3. Ooops-you said Up a Road Slowly. Now, I recently reread it, and I don't think it has held up well, particularly when she is in high school.

    As for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang-that's a reminder for me to check our own copies! Frank Cottrell Boyce has written a sequel, and it's getting excellent reviews (out in the spring, I think).

  4. That's my reaction. Ok, so it's computer books from the 1980s that are no longer relevant...but it's a book.

  5. Anonymous2:18 PM EST

    I don't envy you that job--I think it would be difficult to weed books, especially if I thought that I would have a difficult time replacing the titles. I also think that there are a lot of books that get overlooked simply because they are old, unfortunate when they stand the test of time. One I can think of that I personally love is "The Changeling" by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, but I think it would be hard to find any kind of "new" copy...sorry you have to weed this time of year!

  6. I definitely feel your pain. We are in the midst of our fiction area (which is done annually even though we have a three year plan/cycle). We are running out of space in our fiction area, and i know we have many multiple copies of previous state book award nominees. Im almost at the point where those are going next, even though they help raise the age of my collection. But uncirculating books (even those that are new looking) are sending the wrong message--that we dont care if they do not circulate, and that we have no room for new books. Its so hard. Right now Im working towards getting rid of paperbacks-they just dont last. I am a vicious weeder. I wish my collection age showed that.

  7. I feel this way about weeding in my academic library! I have no particular attachment to the books (medical texts?) but I have such a hard time removing them, despite their lack of currency. Must be that much harder when you actually love the books :)

  8. I hate it, too. Especially when I have to throw something out that I loved as a child but when I think about how many year's it has been since I was a child I think--the geezers must go! Alas. Good luck.

  9. I'm weeding juvenile fiction right now and pulled Up a road slowly off the shelf - hasn't circ'd in several years and not much before that. But I doubt my director will let me weed it - it has a shiny sticker on it! It must be good! So it gets to take up space on the shelf for a while longer.