I’m sure that every librarian at some point has questioned whether to weed a particular book, but what about an entire section? Just a couple of weeks ago I became the librarian at a school that was opened in 1979; I am only the fourth librarian the school has ever had. The library space is huge and beautiful, but barely anything has been changed since the 80s; all the shelves and furniture are stationary. One of my goals upon accepting the position was to progress the library to become future ready. The library space needs to be flexible and multi-functional, therefore with my administration’s support we are removing unnecessary shelves, switching out the furniture, and creating a whole new vibe! In doing this I am currently staring at 192 individual shelves of reference books.
The previous librarian was extremely proud of her reference section and put a lot of time and money into purchasing and displaying the collection. So not only do I feel guilty dismantling her legacy, but there is a lot of financial value sitting on those shelves. However, in order to remove the shelves we want to make the space open and functional I need to weed!
My process of weeding began by running a circulation report in Destiny; this way I could view all of the reference books, their age, and the number of times they’ve circulated. Having the report helps me justify weeding certain series. As I go through each shelf I have come across books that look brand new; however, upon further inspection many of them are from the 90s and have never once been checked out (hence their immaculate condition). Other books, while older, are still relevant to certain classes but have also never been checked out. For those books I have been taking pictures and emailing them to the teacher(s) I think may want them for their classroom collection.
Although I feel guilty about taking so many books out of the library collection, I keep reminding myself of the phrase “use it or lose it”; if the books are not being used than what good are they sitting on the shelf taking up space? Some books that I am ambivalent about, I have decided to keep in our back annex for the rest of the year to see if they are used or requested. The books that teachers do not want or that no longer contain accurate information will be boxed up and discarded or donated.
Now that the majority of reference is online and the students have access to numerous databases I can see how reference books are becoming endangered. Databases allow students to save articles, and many allow them to digitally annotate the articles and have tools that provide them with the appropriate citation. So to weed or not to weed? That is the question of the month!