Weeded Books Everywhere, but Not a One to Read

Each and every year, school librarians engage in daunting task of weeding. Not cleaning out the flowerbeds, but cleaning off the library shelves. Most school librarians weed either before the school year starts or just as the school year ends. I, however, weed all throughout the school year. In order for collection development to truly impact students for the best, books should be weeded on a constant basis based on student needs.

What do we do with all of these weeded books that have been deemed unworthy of sitting on our shelves? Read them? Throw them out? Donate them? There are many, many possibilities.

Below are my top three second lives for discarded books. They aren’t dead, yet!

  1. The art teacher loves discarded books.

Much of the overflow of art supplies are stored in the library (including the kiln). Art teachers can do an abundance of activities with discarded books. Pages can become simple paper for drawings or paintings. Book covers often have the texture of canvas. As a mother of an artist, I know the cost of canvas. Book covers can be removed from the book, primed, and then painted just like a canvas.

2. Students love discarded books.

A project I began my first year in this district the students have titled “Free Book Day.” I give books to all of our students. Some are new. Some are discarded books. I always keep a rolling cart of discarded books for students to take home throughout the year, especially during long school breaks. Many students do not have adequate access to reading materials at home and have no way to utilize the public library.


3. Crafty people love books.

Have you seen all of the Pinterest boards dedicated to recycled/up-cycled book crafting? There are endless possibilities that can happen to weeded books in the hands of crafty people. Many school librarians have held contests in the name of book crafting. (Can you tell I am not crafty?) I also have a colleague who teaches kindergarten that will use book covers in her classroom library as decoration. So crafty!

For more ideas on how to recycle/up-cycle books, check out the hashtag #macgyverlibrarianship on social media. The amazing Jennifer LaGarde has curated a world of crafty amazingness.


Again, there are endless possibilities for weeded books. Don’t just throw them out once they have been eliminated from your inventory, and always make sure to weed them properly. Mark out any distinguishing marks from your school and remove the bar code, if possible.

So, if you like the way that new books look, then maybe you should go and weed those shelves. Go ahead. Sing it in your best Justin Bieber voice while weeding those shelves!


Author: Ashley Cooksey

Library Media Specialist in Arkansas. Self-proclaimed geek. Lover of nature and music. Always learning.

Categories: Blog Topics, Collection Development, Community/Teacher Collaboration

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