This fall I have been working on weeding all of the collections in my district. I actually find weeding to be a great exercise in reflection. While I am going through the collections book by book, I realize that eventually every book I purchase for the collections will, in turn, one day be weeded. While I thought that would bother me, I found it actually soothing that librarians that followed me would one day follow the same process – sitting in relative silence, pondering whether each book should remain in the collection. In some ways, it makes me feel connected to a long line of librarians, all of whom both purchased and purged books from the collections. Being a district librarian can sometimes feel very solitary, and such a reflective process helps me to feel part of a long tradition.
Part of my ease with this might come from the fact that we let teachers and students take the discarded books – I know that there is some opposition to this, but especially with fiction I do not have an issue with it. It also makes it feel more that the books are finding their new home with one family, instead of being shared with all of the children. Also, I find it encouraging that some students are so excited to take a book home – and find that they really like it when it is their own.
Some of my ease with the process might also be that it is only my second year in the library, so these are not purchases I made. I do think that taking the time to reflect on the collection in this way is important, and I am encouraged by the fact that weeding is meant to be ongoing. It means that reflection is built into the very nature of being a librarian. Taking the time to weed has also allowed me to be in all the buildings more, and observe what students and teachers need – allowing me to gain insight into the future of the library.