What Not To Keep

In an email I received recently there was a note about weeding a school library collection that was filled with dusty old A/V. As I read that email I had an idea. Why not start a movement that’s the teen librarian version of What Not To Wear? Instead of Stacy and Clinton we can have two “hip” teen librarians travel around the country and force teen librarians to weed their collections and then give those librarians tips and tools for getting a fresh start. We could call it, What Not to Collect (or some such thing.)

Of course teens would have to be involved in the process. They could act as advisers to the What Not To Collect hosts and would shop with the teen librarian to select the materials that are just right for their collection. (Yes, the collection of the teens and not the librarian’s collection.)

It really shouldn’t take an intervention like I’m suggesting here, but sometimes it does. For some reason throwing away old un-used stuff is hard for some librarians. There is the concern that “good money” was spent on the items. Or, there is the worry that some day one person might just want the item and we won’t have it anymore.

The thing is that the collection should be about the teens in the community who want and need to use the materials now. It’s not about what was hot a decade or even just a year ago. It shouldn’t be about the fact that you spent lots of money on the books during a previous year or decade. You probably don’t wear what you wore in 1997 why would you want to still have books on the shelf from that time period? Clothes go out of fashion and so do library materials.

Take a look at your collection and think about what the invaders from What Not To Collect might say. Do you really need that book, CD, magazine, DVD on the shelf any more?

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About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President and the Youth Services Manager at The Seattle Public Library. She is an adjunct faculty member teaching technology and youth courses for Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

2 thoughts on “What Not To Keep

  1. Sounds like a great idea, Linda–a fun way to encourage healthy weeding practice.

    (PS Speaking of What Not to Wear, I wish they would do a librarian special.)

  2. Here’s my concern: old formats like VHS are obviously on the chopping block, but many patrons – particularly in poorer communities – continue to use technology well past the time manufacturers care to support it. Having VHS in your collection would continue to serve those people, even as the titles convert to digital formats.

    Granted, one can get a DVD player for $30 from Wal-Mart these days. A crappy one that breaks down in a year. But I know folks who live on $150 biweekly food budgets. They have little room to spare for tech upgrades.

    And isn’t there an environmental cost here? How can these old materials get recycled/reused? Just a general concern about our disposable society.

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