Weeding the School Library

“You’re getting rid of MORE books?” I heard this from a teacher this morning as I was boxing up books to be carted away.

It never continues to amaze me that there are people who think that we are the “keeper of the books” and that we should never throw books away, especially teachers. Don’t they want their students to have the most up to date information available? It is so important for school libraries to keep their collections relevant and current.

First and foremost school libraries have limited space, so it would be impossible to keep every book when we purchase new books every year; we would eventually run out of space. Each time I am questioned as to why I’m throwing out books I  try to explain….

  • Why would I keep a book that discussed how it might be possible to land on the moon? (I did find a book like this on the shelf!) The collection should have up to date material so that students get the most accurate information for their research.
  • It’s important to provide books that meet the needs of the school curriculum. My library had an extremely large collection of literary critical analysis books, many for authors that weren’t part of the curriculum, but were taking up valuable shelf space. These were discarded so there was space for more relevant books.
  • Library shelves should be attractive and appealing. If shelves are crammed with old books it’s not going to entice students to browse. I recently weeded some reference book sets because most of the information can be found online in our databases. This allowed me to create a display area for new books, which increases their visibility while also increasing circulation.

I weed throughout the school year and I usually tell my library aides that they shouldn’t let me shelve because I end up weeding at the same time:) Last year I ended up weeding some sections while I was doing inventory, which I would not recommend; I think I made more work for myself in the process. I would recommend setting up a schedule and the CREW Method is a great way to assess your collection and determine if items should be weeded.

I think the hardest section to weed is the fiction section, but I’ve come to the conclusion that if a book has not been checked out in 10 years, it’s probably not going to get checked out, especially if the cover is unattractive. Let’s face it, we all judge a book by it’s cover, even though we shouldn’t.

For some fun check out this blog, Awful Library Books, which highlights books that have been discovered on the shelves and weeded.

What treasures have you found on your shelves?

Happy Weeding!