Weeding… or Mowing?

The Urbana Free Library in Urbana, Illinois, just conducted a major weeding project.

Those of us who work in libraries understand that proper weeding is critical.  A collection that isn’t weeded well becomes clogged up with irrelevant and unnecessary volumes, leaving users reduced options and far too many books to wade through to find those options.  It can be a heart-wrenching experience to weed, but a well-weeded collection is efficient, has breadth and depth, and is easier on our users.

However, the weeding at the Urbana Free Library was anything but good:

“Do you ever read any of the books you [weed]?”

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One Response to Weeding… or Mowing?

  1. michael fuerst says:

    The director has issued an apology, clarified the procedures, and assumed full responsibility for the incident, and initiated corrective action, including the return of a book shipment made to Better World Books. The incident appears headed to a satisfactory resolution. Certainly the library board and concerned patrons will be monitoring this.

    HOWEVER, this incident raises a question about whether all books and which books should be culled when not borrowed for three or some other number years–a question that applies to any library, not just the Urbana library. I remember once going to the Urbana library to look at a book containing drawings of the artist Giacometti. I thumbed through it for a hour or so, appreciated that I could do so at the library, but did not borrow it. And sometimes a patron might take extended looks at several books, before deciding to borrow one for whatever reason. So maybe a book’s “cullability” should also be in part be measured inversely to how many times it has been reshelved. With a new a RFID system, maybe this can be tracked. Again this issue is important to all libraries, especially now considering the technological changes now coming to libraries.

    I expect and hope that the director will gain enough good will for her response to the mistakes, to compensate for the ill-will caused by this incident

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