Today (now yesterday, forgot to finish the post!) I did weeding. Not the garden type (NEVER the garden type!) but the books on the library shelves type. We’ve been at this for a couple of weeks now, since we decided to move some things around, which necessitated some extra shelf space. We’ve got a pretty good collection, and since I’ve been there we’ve already culled a major portion of the (very old and ugly) non-fiction (just prior to our big reno) and I’ve also reduced the fusty old fiction to a minimum too. I’m fairly lucky to have a reasonable amount to spend each year on new books (plus I donate a fair amount, thanks to the judging and reviewing gigs I have), but over time we have put a significant dint in the amount of books on the shelves. After all, the collection has been built up (ahem, and apparently never weeded!) over 20 years – replacing old crap with newer, more relevant books takes time, and to be honest, there really was too many books on the shelves.
This might sound odd, but as soon as we weed, or move the collection around to get more space on the shelves, the books get used more. Overfull shelves are intimidating to kids, and it makes it difficult to find the good books among the crud, so shelf space and removing old books is essential. Not always easy though, particularly when you know a section is well used and you either can’t afford to replace for new, or can’t actually source any decent new books to take their place. We’re working through it though.
One thing I will note: I daresay it’s a lot easier for me to weed this collection, which I’ve only been working with for four years, than it would be for those librarians in the same position for a decade or more – chucking out books you remember buying would be a lot harder!