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Friday, October 14, 2011

Weeding and NPR Report on Libraries Destroying Books

Over on Shelfrenewal, Rebecca posted about librarians' mixed feelings about weeding.  She (like me) enjoys weeding because it is a great tool toward making our collections more efficient and effective.  She moderated a webinar on the topic and included some of the transcript here.

I have had a few memorable rants on the importance of weeding.  Use this link to access all of them.

From a post from last year simply titled, "Weeding":
Without a solid commitment to weeding, all of our collection development work is for naught. It is hard for patrons and librarians to watch books being "thrown away," but we cannot keep everything; we have neither the space nor the money. That is the mission of The Library of Congress and they can barely keep up.
In order to make our collections useful to  public library patrons, the professional librarians need to continually take the pulse of their collections, asses its strengths and weaknesses, make decisions about replacing worn materials, add where there are holes, and delete where necessary.
Now NPR has brought up the question of what happens to the books when we weed them from the library.  In this much talked about report, they give the issue fair treatment.  Most books are sold for money to buy new books or donated, but yes, unfortunately sometimes the weeded books end up recycled.  Although I do not want to ever be responsible for the destruction of a book, as the article points out, it is impossible to expect libraries to keep every book that ever enters their library forever.

Now you can see why Rebecca calls weeding a polarizing topic.  But don't let that stop you.  Go on out and weed something.  Even if you just get rid of that one battered copy of a book that no one has checked out in 10 years, you are helping to make your collection stronger and more useful.  You will have happier patrons as a result.

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