- Physical condition
- Appropriateness (age or currency of information, bias, veracity)
- Physical space
Certainly the referenced article in the title above is satire, but it has a resonating validity: contemporary secondary students, despite our best intentions, are conditioned and prone to gravitate to the computers and Google to find information. Conversely, the GLHS Library does have items of informational or archival value in the vertical file, considering the varied health pamphlets on smoking or cancer or nutrition, the numerous state maps and National Geographic gazetteers, Abraham Lincoln's genealogy, and much, much more. Our patrons would persuasively and correctly argue that, in accordance with the satirical article, most of the vertical file information is readily acquired via computer. But, consider the title "Reporting The Detroit Riot," a short monograph of the Pulitzer prize-winning articles published by the Detroit Free Press during the riots of 1968 found in the files: this document has archival, primary source value, and could be useful to students and researchers here at Grand Ledge High School. On the other hand, the petroleum pamphlet published by Shell Oil probably has a bias and was easily recycled. Still, twelve drawers of file cabinet contents are being recycled, including the pamphlets in the 'Recycling' folder, and I find that I will keep only the occasional item for archival value.
Weeding can be controversial. Librarians actually discuss and share weeding techniques on email listservs, where we learn that we have to overcome the thoughtful custodian or member of the general public who rescues discarded library materials from trash cans or dumpsters. The non-librarian, book-loving general public perceives any act of discarding books treasonous, whereas the aggressively-culling library types are keen to pitch materials that have failed to move from the shelves even in the span of one U.S. Presidency. This notion goes back to the old economic argument, and one postulated in library school as well, of 'just in case' versus 'just in time': do we keep infrequently used materials for the potential patron who may (or may not) need it, or do we acquire information that a patron needs on an as-needed basis?
Post Script: Read the Library Journal article "A Front-Page Article on Weeding Puts the Fairfax Library Under Fire" for more crazy weeding perspective.