Tips for Weeding in a Small Library

My library will soon undergo RFID tagging on all of our resources. Since every single book, CD, DVD, etc. will be touched and tagged, it’s the perfect time to do a good weed. Though time consuming, it’s been good to get acquainted with my collection (every. single. piece. of the collection). Below are a few tips I’ve learned when weeding titles in a small library.

Don’t Forget Diversity
My library is in a town of 3,500 and is 95% white, as reported in the 2010 Census. I’ve come across many books representing non-whites that have low circulation. But, of course, there is more to consider. It’s hugely important to me that my library represents more than the community majority. Chances are, other organizations in the community are already doing a great job at filling their need. I want all of my youth entering the library to easily find resources that represent themselves and have characters that speak to them. If that means keeping a title that can’t keep up with Mo Willems but has a bright, beautiful picture of a Latino boy on the cover, so be it.

Have an Elevator Speech
A few of your patrons will find nothing so horrifying as you removing “perfectly good” materials from your collection. I’m sure this is true in both large and small libraries, but having to do lots of collection analysis while on desk leaves my process open to critique. Have an elevator speech ready in case you have to explain your process. There are some good points in  Managing and Analyzing Your Collection: A Practical Guide for Small Libraries and School Media Centers available through ALA.

It’s Not Your Personal Collection
I have a confession: I don’t like Pete the Cat. I know, I know. Does that mean I got rid of all Pete the Cat’s in at one fell swoop? Of course not. Same goes for only keeping a title because you like it. Maybe you have an emotional connection to The Poky Little Puppy but no one else seems to have the same connection. If you can’t bear to part with a title, try including it in a display. If it still doesn’t move, it’s time to let go.

Pete the Cat.jpg

Your Space is a Priority, Too
You’ve heard about my struggles with space for programming. Part of the solution is to remove shelf space, which requires healthy weeding. Not only is it important for your patrons to have a wide variety of book choices, it’s as important to have a comfortable space for programs. It’s worth remembering to balance all of the priorities of your library when making weeding decisions.

Weeding is probably pretty low on the list of “exciting library things,” but it’s kinda like cleaning out a junk drawer. You dread doing it, but feel refreshed when it’s done. (Or is that just me?)

Note: Pete the Cat image retrieved from user Sarah_Ackerman using Creative Commons license. Edited to include red no symbol.


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