Ok Public (if you are out there) — What do YOU think should be kept in libraries?

I do not know how many non-librarians read my blog (or even how many librarians), but I was thinking recently about more collaborative approaches to weeding books in public libraries.

The current paradigm for weeding items is to do it gingerly and not let the public really know that we do it. There is good reason for this — weeding, if put out in the public without context can end up being blown waaaay out of proportion.

But weeding is necessary and done mostly because of damage, inoperability (a DVD gets scratched up), relevance (people have no use for a World Book from 1982 thank you!) and plain lack of use. Storing books that carry little or no value is expensive, and gets in the way of the stuff that people want.

That said, I do think some things are sacred. Some books should remain on public libraries shelves even if they never circulate.

So, I have a question for the online world and I think all libraries should take the time to ask their communities the same thing:

What books/films/music/whatever do you think should never be weeded off a library’s shelf?

To be more specific, here is what you are saying to librarians everywhere:

  1. If this book gets old or damaged, you should replace it immediately.
  2. If the book goes out of print, you should spend lots of money to keep it in good condition.
  3. If a powerful lobby group thinks this book is offensive, you should go to the guillotine before weeding the item (and I’ll go with you).
  4. I don’t care if the book never gets borrowed.

I’m going to start with comments here. If thing pick up, I will move the list somewhere else where they can be rated etc.. Eventually, I will post the list for the benefit of libraries everywhere.

PS.   This blog is now at over 12,000 views.   My expectation was that 10,000 views would have occurred within a year of its existance (that would be July).   Wow.  Just wow. 


One thought on “Ok Public (if you are out there) — What do YOU think should be kept in libraries?

  1. This is a great question. Normally I look at weeding a book which has not circulated for 5 yrs.

    Having said that we are currently doing major reviews of our Reference and non-0fiction collections to see what information we can replace with Internet sources. In the Public Libraries in Newfoundland Reference is simply not being used in the smaller branches while fiction is still growing at a healthy rate we can’t keep DVDs on the shelves.

    The implication for me is that books are being shifted out of the “hard info” service and into lighter entertainment services. Meanwhile the circulation of our non-fiction collections are essentially stagnant. The bad side of that is they aren’t growing. The good side of that is they aren’t shinking either.

    Do we have a “core” collection? Not really – our collection development and weeding policies are pretty much defined by public demand. The one exception to this is our Newfoundland Collection which is consistently popular and pretty much sacrosanct. We try to get a copy of every book published in the province into every library across the Island and Labrador. Weeding is pursued with the utmost caution due to the heritage implications of the collection and its ongoing popularity.


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