Post #4 What Do You Do With Weeded Books?
This is my second year in my K-8 school library. When I came into the library last year, it hadn’t been weeded in….forever, the books were covered with dust, there was no organization system, the previous librarian wasn’t letting the kids check out books, there was no automated system and no card catalog. To say the least, the library was in dire conditions. I had no idea what kind of books were in there and what condition they were in.
Before I began weeding, I located my school districts’ policy on weeding and used that to determine what books should be weeded and which books could stay. After about a week or so of non-stop work, I finally had the library weeded (I had dusty, dirty hands and clothes to prove it). I weeded out over 400 books!! There were books that said “when we go to the moon someday…”, computer books from 1970, and country books about East and West Germany. Come on! It took me several more weeks to re-organize the library and put the non-fiction books in order by Dewey, establish my fiction section, create my easy book section and find room for my (little) Spanish and Polish bi-lingual sections. I later also decided I needed to separate my Young Adult (YA) books out from my fiction so my older students could locate them easier.
My dilemma with the books that I weeded out of the library was what to do with all of them! My principal wanted me to give the books away to students, however I disagreed. I weeded these books out of the library because they contained incorrect information. I didn’t want my students to take these books, read them and think the information inside was factual! I conveyed my concerns to my principal, but she wanted the students to have the books. So, I HAD to give them away to my students. I felt awful and torn. As a librarian I am supposed to provide knowledge; correct knowledge; and I was leading my students to false information. As a teacher, I need to follow what my principal says. What to do! I came up with the following solution: to satisfy my principal and also keep my conscience clear, I told the kids that these books contained incorrect information and challenged them to each take a book and then identify the incorrect information by finding sources that provided the correct information. My students really enjoyed this! They gained experience with encyclopedias, the web and other reference sources. It was an excellent teaching tool!
So, if you are a school librarian and you have weeded books and your principal can’t stand to get rid of them in any way and insists the books be given to the students, here is a way that you can at least put them to good use. If anyone has any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them!