Monday, December 29, 2008

Year-End Weeding

This is the time of year when I take inventory of how much weight I’ve gained over the past twelve months. Mind you, I don’t weigh myself on a scale of any sort—that only happens when I go to the doctor. Instead, I try on various clothes in my closet to see if they still fit. Those that don’t fit get shoved into a bag that is unceremoniously taken to Goodwill as a year-end donation. I call this process “weeding,” because it is so similar to purging one’s library collection.

Like my clothes closet, library collections should be weeded at least once a year to rid the shelves of materials that the community has—ahem—“outgrown.” Items that were once stylish may now be tattered, old or just plain inappropriate (for example, why on earth did I ever think I could wear yellow?). Even more importantly, your closet—oops! I mean the library’s shelves—may be far too overstuffed to add new materials (like silk and denim!). Then there’s the clutter. How can patrons find what they really need when there’s a lot of old junk in the way? Weeding helps optimize your resources. (“Well, lookee here. I forgot all about these khaki pants I bought last year!”).

There’s nothing like a good after-Christmas sale to inspire me to cast out clothes I haven’t worn in a while! But as someone who works at home, I don’t feel compelled to shop all that often. I can wait till the end of the year to weed my closet.

Libraries, on the other hand, are constantly adding to their collections and so should constantly weed what’s no longer needed. The library will look more attractive and patrons will be able to more readily find what they want if your shelves are culled of unnecessary items. Don’t you dare hold on to old stuff, though, just because your book budget has been cut! As sure as I am you don’t want to see me wearing yellow, I am equally sure we do our patrons a disservice by having old information on the shelf. There’s no excuse not to weed . . . especially the week after Christmas when most people are doing things other than visiting the library.

How’s this for an idea? Let’s make a joint New Year’s resolution that I’ll stop buying new clothes as long as you continue to weed your library’s collection. I bet I know who’s going to break the pact first . . .

1 comment:

lifeinoleg said...

A charming post.

Luckily, my library weeds year-round and I'm never too squeamish to withdraw tattered Russian books.