Tuesday, April 22, 2008

School libraries find it's not so easy to part with old books

Interesting timing on this article, as we are also currently involved in a massive deselection project. Of course, weeding is meant to be done on an ongoing, scheduled basis, but only those school librarians with OCD are able to be strict about it and run an effective program. This weeding's impetus was our approaching Library Management Software switch. With a planned absence due to a funeral -- sadly, an ex-student athlete I coached -- I used our Library Management Software to run a report on all the books in our collection with the criteria of publishing dates prior to 1959. Examining the report one finds a couple of trends:
  • Predictably, the 800s (literature) had the lion's share of the dated books. But, Shakespeare and Frost and Sandburg and O'Neil and Thoreau and Chaucer will forever fail to lose their place on our library shelves, so the 800s will go largely unchanged during my career;
  • Some of the records and books returned in the report were not actually published before 1959, they were simply reprints. For example, a title like The fables of Aesop, a book we are likely to keep.
I crossed off the titles that were popular or collectible or notable, like all things Will Durant, but I wish our reference materials -- The Fiction Catalog and the Senior High School Library Catalog -- for this endeavor were more current. I also kept all things Michigan related, like Michigan trees worth knowing or Historic Michigan; land of the Great Lakes. The plans were for my substitute to drag around the book trucks and pull those un-crossed off books in my absence. My Monday arrival found all of our carts occupied with the 400 plus books, ready for further examination and replacement on the shelf, or deletion from the catalog and readied for recycling.