I am pretty sure I’m not the only person who struggles with removing books from the collection. Not the easy calls. Not the books that meet the MUSTY (Misleading, Ugly, Superseded, Trivial or not right for Your collection) guidelines. We can all laugh at the science text that says “Someday, computers will fit on a desktop” or the copy of Twilight with the cover half off and the text block falling out. When I came here 10 years ago, this library had sections in need of heavy culling, and I was equal to the task. But I have worked here for a while now. Many of these books were purchased under my watch. Maybe that’s why the word “weeding” sticks in my craw. Weeds are interlopers. Weeds are things that pop up where they are not wanted. These books I am contemplating removing don’t feel like “weeds” to me. I can look at many of them and tell you exactly why it was purchased, and which readers loved it…six years ago. I can remember when we couldn’t keep that one on the shelf….in 2010. When a teacher (now retired) used this video every semester, like clockwork.
The CREW standards (Continuous Review Evaluation Weeding) from the Texas Library and Archives Commission, updated by Jeanette Larson in 2012, offer ongoing ideas for a continuous process of …what shall I call it? “Deaccessioning” is a bit unwieldy, but accurate. Downsizing? Right Sizing? Grooming? (Thanks to my colleague, Cindy, for that one!) Removing books from the collection? Lots of phrases sit more easily on my heart.
Part two of the process is what to do with what is removed. Since the collection is fairly current, much of what is removed is in good condition (just outdated or low in popularity) so we are making categories. I will take a batch to give away at the 7th /8th grade study hall, where the pop-up library sets up once a week. We will invite interested 5th and 6th graders to take a book home. Upper School students will have their chance. We will invite teachers to come by — in the past we have invited the whole school at once, but I think we will sort by discipline, and invite smaller groups, with the hope they can more easily see books for their classroom collections. Less “look at the weeds on our compost heap” and more “look at these interesting things that have fallen out of fashion.” We will undoubtedly end up with a “free to a good home table” and then a trip to the recycle bin, but I am not coming from a place of yanking something out but from a place of cultivating and grooming a collection.
What sounds right to you, when removing books? Do you have tips and tricks to share?