Have you ever wondered what the library does with the books that people aren’t reading anymore? We “weed” them. It sounds like a gardening activity, doesn’t it?
Actually, it is a bit like gardening. We take out old materials to make room for new, so we can keep our collection healthy and relevant.
Weeding in libraries is an ongoing research project that produces a menu of decisions. The first decision is the easiest one. If the information in the book is out of date or if the book is dirty, water damaged or falling apart, we discard it. That leads to the next decision, which is deciding whether we should replace it or order a more current book on the subject.
We at JCPL are lucky because our operating system allows us to create reports that tell us how many times a book has been checked out in a stipulated time period – the last month, the last two years, the last five years and so on. That allows us to get rid of things that no one is reading and make room for newer items our patrons want.
If an item hasn’t been checked out in our stipulated time, it becomes a candidate for weeding. We then check to see if the book is one that is fundamental to the subject and should be retained. If the answer to that is yes, we then check to see how many of our libraries have copies of it. If there are other copies in the system, we then decide how many we think we need, based on circulation trends, subject matter and archival value. This same process applies to other materials like DVD’s, books on CD and multiple copies of bestsellers.
So, what do we do with the books that are weeded? If they’re in good condition, we give them to the Library Foundation to sell. This is a good thing because the Foundation uses the funds from the book sales to support library programs like the Traveling Children’s Library and our Summer Reading Club. If books are in poor condition, we recycle them. We try to ensure that we handle all weeded materials responsibly – from both a financial and environmental perspective.
It’s been a while since JCPL has conducted a comprehensive weeding project, so in the coming months, we'll be reviewing our collection and weeding unused or worn out materials to make room for new high-interest materials. This should refresh our collection, improve the availability of high-demand materials and reduce wait times.
I believe you’ll be delighted with the results.
One of the Library's strategic priorities is to make literacy tools available to everyone in the County (and especially to children from birth to 5 and their caregivers). We know that children who enter school ready to read tend to perform better in school, have higher graduation rates and achieve more success in life than children who don't. We'd like to see every child in Jefferson County begin kindergarten with the basic skills they need to be ready to read.
We offer robust literacy tools to children and their caregivers through Library Storytimes, our Traveling Children's Library, and specialized computer programs in the children's areas in our Libraries. Now, we're working to extend those services through focused outreach and partnerships.
Here's an example. Recently, we partnered with Jefferson County Human Services to help them create a “Read to Your Kids” book corner in Room 110 of the Human Services Building. (Room 110 is where citizens come to complete paperwork for assistance, and they often bring children with them.) We're providing posters and brochures with tips for parents on how to help their children learn to read, as well as fliers advertising our Storytimes.
This is a perfect opportunity to deliver information about the importance of reading to children to at-risk families in Jeffco. It gives the children something to do while their parents wait for appointments, and it gives parents concrete ideas of how to help their children.
Here are before and after photos of the project:
Thanks to Jeffco Human Services for the opportunity to extend our services to families in need!