To weed or not to weed…

As a part of my coursework in 5405, Collection Development, I was tasked weed a section within my school library – and in this case – my mentor’s library.

The selection I focused on  was the 636 section on pets. I observed numerous books across three shelves, organized by type of pet including two larger sections focusing on cats and dogs. The books were well loved and did show signs of damage as they are some of the most frequently circulated books. This is because the books are popular with students across all grade levels on the elementary campus and because the second grade curriculum includes a research project on animals. Though there were obvious signs of wear and tear – frayed spines, worn pages, and pencil marks, the books were in generally good condition.

Our district does not have a policy that specifically addresses weeding; however there is a policy related to damaged books, but this policy only outline fines to be charged for each type of damage. For example, if the book is no longer useful, students are charged the full replacement price. If a book can be rebound, the charge is around $8.95.

I also learned that our library does not have a formal schedule for weeding. Because the library is integrated into the co-curricular schedule along with fine arts and physical education classes, many of my mentor’s duties and responsibilities are more related to instruction and instructional planning than they would be on a campus with a flexible schedule. She evaluates books as they are returned. When I asked if she ever weeded book that just weren’t in heavy circulation, she explained that this wasn’t a priority for her at this time because our collection is relatively new and we still have plenty of shelf space.

If shelf space were a concern, we discussed using circulation data, relevance, and content to choose items for weeding. Books in such a high demand area of the library that are not capturing student interest would either need to be weeded or highlighted, perhaps in a book display, book talk, or read aloud.

In that case that books would need to be weeded, the policy has recently changed, allowing librarians to donate weeded books to classroom libraries, but because the books at our campus are generally too damaged to be useful, they are disposed of. Before this, all notations or labels identifying the school or district are removed or covered.

Considering our appraisal of the condition of the books, and my librarian’s general philosophy of not weeding popular, frequently circulated books, we did not weed any books from this particular section.

Photo by Katarina Milosevic on Unsplash

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