Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thought for Thursday: Weeding

Weeding: the process of removing materials from a collection.  Synonyms: culling, removing, trimming, making space.  It just sounds wrong on so many levels especially when referring to your library.  But as with a professional library, there is only a finite amount of storage space present in a building whether it's your home, storage facility, or otherwise. 

Part of my job as a librarian is the process of weeding the collection of materials that haven't circulated (been checked out) over a long period of time, materials that are in poor condition (falling apart, possess an unsightly odor, water-damaged, or moldy), or materials that are outdated.  We do this to keep the collection fresh and new while also providing for the changing needs of our patrons.  Serving as an academic library as well as a public library, this is even more important as well for the students and professors. 

So why is it so hard to weed my own home collection?  I can only have so many bookshelves and those bookshelves can only have a certain amount of space.  But each time I have to go through the bookshelves to weed, it's like parting with a friend.  And I find it even harder to weed older books, those few titles I've had for many years.  That's like getting rid of family, and who would do that to one's family?

Here's what I usually do when I have to weed my collection at home.  I take a look at the entirety of my library and see which titles that either I have read before and will probably be less likely to read again or titles that I bought on impulse and are less likely to actually read.  Yes, I know, I suffer from being a bibliophile, but I'm working on my problem.  And it's thanks to the idea of a friend that I keep in mind when I do feel the urge to purchase a new book.  For each book I buy, I must give/sell/donate a book from my bookshelves.  Logical, right?  It has actually helped in my weeding process because when I weed, it usually means another reader will benefit.  Readers get new-to-them books and I free up some shelf space.  Such a win-win situation!

So while it might be a sad thing to do, weeding is a process in any library to make room for the new or new-to-me.  Keep that in mind when you are trying to fit new books from an event onto your shelves. 

How do you choose to weed your shelves?


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