I wasn’t going to write a post today, but two of the librarian bloggers in my feed reader wrote about weeding today from two very different libraries.
Ms. Yingling of Ms. Yingling Reads works in a middle school library. Her post today, Weeding, or things that make me very sad, is about books that are falling apart and books that her middle school students won’t take even when she tries to shove them into their hands.
Jenica Rogers of Attempting Elegance is the Director of Libraries at the State University of New York at Potsdam. In On weeding, she describes the need that her library has for a reduced collection in advance of a renovation project and to improve the findability of the good stuff. She also describes the worries.
Since weeding is a term that I want more non-librarians to know, so that fewer people freak out when they hear about a weeding project in their favorite libraries, I thought that would be a good term for Wondrous Words Wednesday.
Here is the definition of weeding according to the Online Dictionary of Library and Information Science:
weeding. The process of examining items in a library collection title by title to identify for permanent withdrawal those that meet pre-established weeding criteria, especially when space in the stacks is limited. Public libraries usually weed routinely on the basis of circulation. In academic libraries, weeding is done less frequently, usually only when the shelves become overcrowded, in anticipation of a move or an accreditation review, or when a significant change occurs in curriculum, such as the elimination of a major. Weeding should be undertaken judiciously because out of print titles can be difficult to replace.
Every once in awhile there will be news reports about libraries throwing books in the dumpster (nowadays, of course, they are more likely to be recycled or, if not too shabby, sold on the used book market) and how awful that is since libraries are all about loving books, aren’t they? And, they are (among other things), but sometimes library patrons love our books to death. And sometimes the usefulness of the content in a book dies quietly on the shelf.
A few years ago, I helped weed the technology section at a community college — we could safely eliminate every book before the mid-90s because there was no mention of the World Wide Web. A university with a computer science department might keep the best of those books for future historical interest, but a community college needed books that helped their students understand the present-day computing environment.
As a gardener, I love the way librarians use the word weeding because it is such an apt metaphor.
Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by Bermudaonion’s Weblog. Kathy says: “Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.”