5 Spring Cleaning Tips For Your Collection

The season for spring cleaning is upon us.  Our school library collections are no exception, we need to clear out and clean up each year to make way for the new.  Below are 5 weeding and collection cleaning tips that will help you purge this spring season.  


#1: Walk The Shelves Like a Shopper

Putting yourself in the mindset of your patrons can help you see what they see.  Walk the stacks with the intention of a student or staff member.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where do your eyes automatically go?
  • Do any covers look worn, dirty, or damaged?
  • Does shelving look too packed or cluttered in areas?

As you walk, consider pushing a cart with you.  As you see books that need to go based on visuals alone, pull them. Once you have a section of shelving complete, sit down with that created cart.  If there are books that circulate well that need to be replaced then add them to your next purchase list, if they are outdated then weed away.   

#2: Run Reports To Do Heavy Lifting 

Using the library management system that you have to run reports that are data driven can be a huge time saver for your weeding process.  I have Destiny and run reports through Titlewave which is a part of my book vendor Follette.  If your library is a Destiny user all you need to do is click “Titlewave” on your left hand side menu and choose “submit”.  After your collection is analyzed you will have a report that you can organize and sift through to look at data points throughout your collection.

#3: Repair What you Can

Every year my library shelving goes through wear and tear.  As school librarians are well aware, books are heavy.  My nonfiction section can be notoriously difficult on our shelving for that reason alone.  Broken or unstable shelving can be a safety hazard to your patrons, so making sure books below a shelf are not holding up shelving is an important piece.  I test shelving and repair anything that I am able to with new pegs, moving shelving, or even screws to help hold shelving safely in place. 

#4: Sift Through Data

 I find starting with weeding candidates’ reports is a great way to start.  I filter by age in ascending order to see titles by age range. This gives me a glance at what I’m starting off with.  If you are a high school library don’t panic, your collections average age will look different due to your amount of classics that you need for curriculum support.  Also, the reports that are generated by each section of nonfiction are extremely helpful as well.  Going through and seeing the average age might give you an idea of which section needs to be weeded over another, instead of just nonfiction in general throughout your collection.  If I see a stark contrast of a certain dewey section I will start with specifically that section when thinking about weeding and purchasing new titles to balance. 

#5: Purchase To Plant The Seeds

Spring is not just about cleaning out the old, but bringing in the new.  As we get to this time of year we are wrapping up our spending.  Making those last lists for state grants or library budget spending.  Choosing what titles to close out the year is planting the seeds for what you will start with next school year, so make it as purposeful as you can as you plan ahead.  If you know that book talks will be popular at the start of the year, focus on fiction titles.  If you know you have new or returning research projects right away when next year starts, focus on nonfiction.  Whatever you choose, think about what you will need as you spring into next school year.  


Celebrate the renewal and fresh start of spring by giving your collection a clean sweep.  These 5 tips will help as you grow your library collection one year at a time.  Out with the old and damaged, in with the new and fresh!


Author: Elizabeth Libberton

Elizabeth Libberton is the library media specialist at St. Charles East High School in St. Charles Illinois. She currently writes book reviews for School Library Journal. She is a member of the ALA Awards Selection Committee. Also, she is a member of the steering committee for the AISLE Lincoln Book Award.

Categories: Collection Development

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