Some Books Don't Belong Here






(Photo from Twitter user @1mikaelams)

This photo of a dumpster filled to the brim with library books began circulating on social media, and people were angry.

It got me thinking about the balancing act public libraries perform to provide the flow of new titles that our members expect, keep beloved classics, and remove the worn and forgotten from shelves. It requires constant attention to the popularity of authors, trends, timeless themes, and the mission to provide accurate information.

What is constant is the need to weed.

Weeding is the library term for removing books from circulation. If we did not weed, soon the shelves would be full of books people have already read, containing outdated information, or with themes (looking at you, Fifty Shades of Grey) or authors that are no longer in demand. People stop checking things out if all they find on the shelves are titles that don’t interest them.

What happens to the weeded books?

At many CADL branches they are added to the used book sales sponsored by the Friends of the Library groups, which support library programs and spaces like the Recycled Reads Book Sale at Stockbridge with the hot pink stickers. People get a chance to discover gems they might have missed while supporting their local library. Not all weeded books can go into these book sales. If the books are too worn or contain outdated information, they are recycled.

So, the next time you browse one of CADL’s used book sales, and find books weeded from the shelves, imagine the staff juggling new books, old books and worn books so that you will always find something you want to check out on the shelves.

Sherri McConnell, Head Librarian of CADL Stockbridge