Monday, 4 June 2012

Weeding Angst

It’s that time in my library.  Inventory is almost done and it’s time for me to go through and start weeding.  This is a new endeavor for me as I’ve only been here 3 years and have kept the status quo until now.  However, it is time to evaluate the physical condition of the books and take a look at their frequency of use.

The difficulty comes from the touchy shaved-monkey feelings people exhibit when it comes to removing books from a collection.  Many library-goers (or librarians) become attached to the books… or the idea of having the books.  They might be molding, the spines torn, and nothing you would ever keep on your shelf at home but somehow they can’t be removed from the sacred shelves of the collection.  No matter that we have 2 newer editions.  No matter that new research has made the information defunct.  No matter that nobody has checked it out in over 10 years; it must stay!
The opposite side of the spectrum is that just about anything that isn’t new or attractive or user/reader friendly should be tossed out to make sure there is room for engineered books, eye-catching displays, and the newest methodology that may disavow centuries of previous work.  And the organizer’s proposition that “if it hasn’t been looked for or used in 6 months, toss it out.”

How will I perform this balancing act?  Well, I am first defining my limiters. The biggest two of these being: space and accessibility.  We serve a largely ESL student body so there needs to be a tie between simplified texts and bridging material that will enable them to understand the deep theological information that is the highlight of our small library.  We have a limited number of shelves, too, so we need to make sure that what we offer is the best with little “filler” to take up valuable space.

So, as I look at each book in the collection, I will hold it in my hand with a short prayer for wisdom and evaluate its physical condition, quantity of similar texts, past checkouts, and the need to replace rather than remove.  The beauty of this chore is that I will uncover gems in the collection that I can bring to the attention of my patrons when they come looking for what they need.  And I get to immerse myself in the knowledge of centuries and touch objects that can link me to the past as well as to my future with the Lord.  

I don’t know how it sounds to you but to me it is a perk of my job, all I need is a hot cup of tea to go with it!

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