Tuesday, April 22, 2014


When I started working as a page at the Nashua, NH, public library back in the 50s, one of my first tasks was to pull the covers off weeded books. This was my introduction to the concept of weeding a library collection. At the time, I was a high school kid and very active in the Methodist Youth Fellowship. And I had in the stack of books to be destroyed a two-volume history of the Methodist church. I was devastated. If they library no longer wanted/needed these books, couldn't I have them, please? No. That would be totally against library policy.

I ripped the covers off, of course. In 1955, a regular job (two hours a day, 3 to 5, five days a week, 50 cents an hour) was a real prize for a teen. Especially a teen who didn't NOT want to babysit!

But I've never forgotten.

A while back there was a story about a Library Director in a large public library (I've lost the reference) who directed staff to severely weed the collection. This was done while the Head Librarian was on vacation, and raised a lot of flak among patrons and staff.

And now the University of New Hampshire is in on the act, as in the article below. I sympathize with the library, but also with the faculty. There is no easy answer.



  1. That's Urbana Free Library in IL you're thinking of - huge controversy. We send all our weeded materials (that don't sell in the book sale) to Better World Books. Nets us a little money and frees us from the dreaded helpful patron digging through our dumpster "you threw out statistics books from 1940?? But someone might WANT them!" Some libraries, especially school/university libraries have all sorts of weird policies and requirements and sometimes can't legally sell discards though.

  2. We should talk about this sometime, Ellen! I would like to compare notes.

    1. Sounds like a good idea. You could invite me to visit your school library in a few weeks, some Mon, Wed, or Fri, after classes end at the U.


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