Breaking up is just so hard to do

throwing-out-books.jpgThe librarian's best friend and arguably ongoing nemesis is the never-ending task of weeding. To remain on the cutting edge or at least to remain in the realm of the present with your collection it's important to evaluate all of the resources on and off the shelves that the library provides. This means, that in any healthy library there should generally be a project going on that removes, or weeds, outdated items. I am fortunate to work in a very healthy academic library, your very own Beatley Library at Simmons, and I find myself these days withdrawing beautiful, yet ancient, reference books. Let's face it, the future of reference does not lie in the obscure tomes published 50 years ago with the solid leather bindings. However, I stand there in the stacks with The Encyclopedia of Fairies in my hand and I'm sure it's not my imagination that I hear a little cry from within as I place it on the withdrawal cart. These books know where they're going. They know their fate. I assumed they were going to the land where the old books have lots of grass to run around in, playing all day and taking turns reading from their authoritative pages. These concordances of Yeats and Dickens are breaking my heart. They leave these shelves forever and I know there are no quality electronic equivalents. I also know that the only pages that give these books the time of day are the reference students in LIS 407 on their treasure hunts for obscure facts. Night after night I continue to pull from a 30 page list of titles and every time I fill the cart I see the massive furnace the toys from Toy Story 3 faced and think of their gruesome end: stripped bare and recycled. If they're lucky they will be donated to an organization who distributes old library books to underserved populations that will appreciate them. But with shrinking library budgets and the cost of shipping for heavy leather-bound books it's hard to see that future for many of these books. I, of course, enjoy the book art on pinterest and tumblr and I wonder why there aren't more artists mining the weeding projects of libraries. If they can't be read they should at least be immortalized as something stunning that reminds us of the importance of the book. Moral of this story is: I respect the importance of weeding in all libraries but I DO BELIEVE IN FAIRIES! Let's find them a home!

Libraries


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