October 15, 2009


This week's Booking Through Thursday question is about how you get rid of old books when your collection gets out of control.

This is interesting, because I'm sure everyone handles it differently--but also because I'm learning to become a school librarian and it's an issue we've covered there as well.

Personally, I love books, but purposely try not to be a freak about them. I loan them and am happy to trade boxes of them at used book stores and walk out with a shopping bag. I probably have around a thousand books in the house, but it's closer to three or four thousand when you count in my wife's classroom collection, my classroom collection and our daughter's books. So yeah, we get rid of torn up classroom books and sometimes replace them. We take piles of read paperbacks and trade them. It doesn't bother me because I like used books. I also like having about half the books around me be unread so I never have to worry about what I might get to next. I'm also not a big re-reader. I keep favorites around, but when a shelf gets to tight, somethings just gotta give. I have enough bookshelves and only so many more years of reading left in me.

I almost never regret giving away books. Although one time I found myself pull a science fiction paperback from a shelf in a used bookstore and was shocked to see my own name inscribed inside the front cover. I'd traded it long before but must have never read it. Weird.

Weeding the school library is a different matter. It's got to be done, but some people are squeamish about it. Yet it's much better to have a small, vibrant collection than a large, dusty out of date one. I'm currently working with my media specialist and making recommendations for pulling some stuff out of the Dewey 520s (Astronomy). Books like one that tells about the exciting upcoming Hubble space telescope, or that overly mentions Pluto, or there was even one that said Sally Ride was currently living in La Jolla, California. See ya!

And yes, most of these will be thrown away. If they're 20 years out of date and they're not ok for the media center, then they're not ok to donate to a classroom teacher either. They've done their time and need to be let go. It's all right. There are many any more books out there and it's always fun to shop for more.

(image cc flickr)


Vicki said...

I agree with what you say, it's just hard for me to let them go!

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

I totally agree with you about weeding the library collection. I would much rather find up to date book there!

doug0077 said...

Ah, Ninja, you've hit on one of my favorite pet peeves - lack of weeding in many libraries. Writing about weeding was my very FIRST published professional article way back in 1990! www.doug-johnson.com/dougwri/weeding.html. Before the Internet, blogs and Tweets.

When in doubt, throw it out!


Jenny said...

Our school librarian does offer some of those terribly out of date non-fiction books to the primary teachers to be cut up for the pictures. I have a good collection of books that my kids can use to find pictures of past and present. First graders can't read the books so the out of date information is irrelevant. They are just using the pictures.

Teacherninja said...

Vicki: It's ok, you don't have to.

Melissa: Thanks!

Doug: We need T-shirts!

Jenny: That's ok, I suppose, as long as they're weeding!

Thanks, all.

C.B. James said...

I weed the books in my classroom collection on a regular basis. For the most part it's a question of deciding which paperbacks to replace since they're really only good for 4 to 6 reads.

But, if a book has been on the shelf unread for more than two years, it's time to trade it in.