Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Weeding Resolution for the New Year

Book Cover for Don't Throw It Away by Vivian Abell

(Photo courtesy of the Awful Library Books website)

Even before I was the director of a 2,074 square foot public library, I liked to weed library collections.   But the experience of "one in, one out" collection development for nearly eight years forced me to become ruthless in my approach to weeding.  I realize that as folks who work in libraries we value information and we prize the collections that we've worked so hard to build over the years.  But an analogy that I often use in my weeding work is that outdated, inaccurate, and unattractive library materials are akin to spoiled milk.  They are past their "shelf life" and no longer deserve a place in your library collection.

It's a new year, so let's resolve to clean up our library collections.  For inspiration and encouragement, I highly recommend Awful Library Books, a fabulous site created by Mary Kelly and Holly Hibner, two Michigan librarians who wrote Making a Collection Count: a Holistic Approach to Library Collection Management (Elsevier, 2nd edition, 2013).

Another remarkable source for weeding inspiration is CREW: a Weeding Manual for Modern Libraries by Jeanette Larson (available as a .pdf courtesy of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission).  And I would be remiss if I didn't also mention how vital it is to include weeding procedures and practices in your library's collection development policy. Weeding is an essential part of collection development, so make certain that your library trustees and community stakeholders understand its importance and support your weeding efforts.  Our Wisconsin Public Library Policy Resources page contains useful examples of policies from libraries across our state.

If your public library has a collection development policy (or other policy) that you'd like to share via our Library Policy Resources page, please contact me at:

- written by Denise Anton Wright, Public Library Development Team