on weeding…


Hello from Hollywood!

As you read this, we’re in the midst of a thrilling week of exploration, networking, sharing, whining/wining, dining, learning, fun, and rejuvenation in Los Angeles at #AISL16LA! So many great things learned so far! The most significant, perhaps, being that the VAST MAJORITY of male librarians in independent schools are named Dave/David! There will be more to come on that phenomenon, but experience from prior AISL Annual Conferences has taught me that there is NO WAY that I was going to have the time or energy to write a post about the conference in real time so…

Not So Fast

This post is being written in the week before the conference and it is business as usual in our library. This week we have librarian-led lessons for 6th grade science classes, 10th grade MPX humanities classes, 10th grade English classes, 10th grade history classes, ELD classes, health classes, a librarian accompanying a class to the Japanese Cultural Center Archives to research the internment of Japanese-Americans in Hawaii during WWII, and a whole bunch of other classes coming in to use the library for class sessions led by teachers rather than librarians. It’s all very exciting. We’ve invited folks into the library and they’ve taken us up on our offer. Except for the bald spots on the sides of my head where I’ve pulled all the hair out while trying to schedule elementary, middle, and high school classes running on different schedules into our space, it’s all amazingly good!

Getting Ready to Get Ready

While all of that is happening, a library still has to be a library and a collection still needs loving care and nurturing. Over the past few months, I worked my way through the 900 section, embarking on D. Wee’s Big Adventure in Cataloging as documented here and here. I’m thrilled to report that my recon and shifting project is now done and we’ve started to weed!

Weeding vs. Clear-Cutting?

Weeding my print collection is hard for me because I find myself squeezed between the two sometimes conflicting visceral instincts of librarianship:

Keep everything “just in case” because you might need it someday!


Provide users the best content that is available.

How do you decide what to weed?  Not so very long ago, this meme fell into my Facebook feed. I only have family and personal friends on Facebook so very few of them are librarians. Interestingly, it was promptly liked by hoards of my Facebook friends.


While thinking about how to best put “weeding theories” into practice, I came across To Weed or Not To Weed? Criteria to Ensure that Your Nonfiction Collection Remains Up to Date by Deborah B. Ford via School Library Journal. Ford offers up much great advice and insight, but the MUSTIE method had a concise, pithy appeal that spoke to me particularly because a decent many books in my 900s are ugly, superseded, or have information easily obtainable from other resources.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 3.08.14 PM

Finally, in a totally unplanned coincidence, during the time that I was thinking a lot about weeding, I happened to finish Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. This is, by no means, a fair summary of the whole of Marie Kondo’s “KonMari” method, but since finishing the (truly wonderful) book, I have had a tendency to facetiously boil the method down to holding an object in my hands and asking myself, “Do you spark joy?” and if the answer is “no.” Throwing the item out.


One of my life’s great ironies is that this book is one that I am now “hoarding” on a shelf at home! Hahaha!

Theory Into Action

At some point, you can gather all of the information in the world, but information can only be empowering when you put it to action so eventually, I had little choice but to pull up a book truck and begin the weeding process. As it stands, there were OLD books that stayed on shelves because they offered unique perspectives or content; books that were slam dunks for weeding just because they were beyond repair and/or just gross; books that were just NEVER going to be borrowed by ANY child or young adult; and, ultimately, books that stayed on the shelves because I just could not make up my mind.

Hall of Fame: Weeding Edition!

Hmmm! When did this country cease to exist? Was it 1995?

Hmmm! When did this country cease to exist? Was it 1995?

Things have changed!

Times change! Things have changed! Books need to be changed!

Contemporary Political Leaders

Most of these guys are dead so, yeah, not quite “contemporary” enough! LOL!


The “failed to spark joy” truck. Just one of MANY!

Silk Purses from Sows’ Ears

Weeded books with some possible usefulness in other contexts get boxed and stored until they can be picked up by our local Friends of the Library group. We have, however, saved some to use for future source evaluation lessons. “Take a look at the book on your group’s table. Why do you think this book should be removed from our library? Discuss amongst yourselves.” We don’t want students to just assume that just because a book resides on our shelves, that it doesn’t merit active and thorough evaluation before the information in it can be put to use. I think we can find ways to shape this into a meaty, but fun, mini-lesson or focus activity on source evaluation.

It Never Ends…

Weeding of our 900s continues, but when we finish there will always be other beds to weed.


Our planet section got a not-so-long-ago refresh, but Pluto continues to taunt us.

Scan 1

Hahaha!!! Maybe we do sports next!

  • What are your weeding challenges?
  • What hits/tips/tricks might you offer to a weeding novice like me?
  • What’s the funniest weed you’ve ever found in your collection?

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