One of the projects I've had on my plate for the 15-16 school year has been weeding my very outdated reference section. Here is my library, our print reference is split in two different areas of the library, so there is even more reasons to weed! The print reference are on some "regular" bookshelves and then in a "T" lower bookshelf section int he middle of the library. See picture below. My goal was to weed the reference section to the point where only the lower "T" bookshelf held out print reference section.
So I began my journey and I followed the typical things you think about when you are weeding. How does the physical copy look? When was it published? Is the information up to date? Etc. However, there are a few other practical tips I found as I went through as I thoroughly weeded. Here are a few.
#2: How much information do you need on one topic?
Here's another dilemma. When it came to books on World Religion, did I really need 10 print reference books on this topic? For my school, no I did not. I do not currently have classes coming into the library doing research projects on religion. Therefore, I don't need those 10 books. I only need one or maybe two for our library's needs.
There were other books as seen in the image above that I held onto that were single volumes on a specific topic as well. Many of these topics were popular in persuasive essays, and a student is much more likely to pick up a book that is on their specific topic than comb through a larger encyclopedia of a broader topic.
#3: How accurate are the view expressed in the book in 2016? Not just for accuracy but. . . .
This is a no-brainer and something we think about all the time as librarians, but I found some interesting situations as I debated over a few topics. We all know that science has an expiration date for accuracy, but it extends far beyond this. Here are a few interesting situations I came across as I weeded. . . . .
* A book on homosexuality published in 2009. While this may seem somewhat up-to-date, so much has happened in the LGBTQ community in the past 7 years that this book had some out of date ideas, such as the state of same-sex marraige, the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, etc. In the end, I decided to keep the book because it was the only book we had that was a single volume on homosexuality and at least contained some accurate information. I would only recommened this book as a selective supplemental.
* A book on transgender people publish in 2011. Again, much like the book above, 2011 doesn't seem too far away. However, so much has happened just in the last year for the transgender community. Does the book reflect the world today? No. But again, was it the only single volume we have on transgender people? Yes. So it stayed.
* Multiple books on race relations published within the past 10 years. The tension of race relations has changed in recent years. Many of the books I went through focused mostly on African American/White America relationships with very little mentioning of other races. The landscape is changing in America. While many of these books were of good quality and I kept a few, so many were simply (and sadly) out of date to the current tension of America.
Overall, while weeding does not seem like a tasks that anyone enjoys, I actually find some joy in going through the reference collection. I start to understand the collection more. I understand what I'm keep and why so I can help that next kid a little more accurately when they come through the door. It's an excellent project, and I can't wait to figure out what I will do with the space I create! My modern library is starting to come together. . . .
Jennifer Zimny has been a teacher librarian at Ponderosa High School for the past three years and previous to that, she was the drama teacher for 9 years. She holds a BA in Theatre from CSUS, a teaching credential in English, and a teaching credential in Library Media Services from Azusa Pacific University
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