Today we're going to talk about the one aspect of library work that generally horrifies the public and that some librarians drag their feet on. Yep, I'm talking weeding. That process where librarians actually get rid of books. As in, take them off the catalog, stamp them "discard" and either 1) toss them in the nearest dumpster or 2) give them to the Friends Of The Library to sell.
My experience with weeding is that the public doesn't understand it, and that some librarians really suck about doing it. Weeding has to be done people. It's part of the circle of life in Library Land. As much as we would like them to, books just plain flat-out wear out. Spines get busted. Pages turn crispy brown. And accidents happen. Someone drops the book in the bathtub. Or leaves it outside in the rain. A curious tot thinks it's a neat-o new coloring book. Or the dog thinks it's a tasty new chew toy. Shit happens. Sometimes literally (ewwww!) to library books. So they have to go.
When it comes to fiction, I tend to preach condition, condition, condition. Always weed on condition, first and foremost. Look people, I don't care if the darn book is The Great American Novel, if it looks like it was buried in someone's backyard for the past 10 years, it's time for it to go. If it's truly that important and vital, sooner or later some publisher will realize they can make money off it and reprint the darn thing.
But weeding is sometimes about hard choices. I had to make one today. Yep, it's time for my library to say goodbye to The Tender Texan by Jodi Thomas. Published in 1991 and currently out of print. According to OCLC, we have the only copy in the entire state. We've been housing it in our closed-stacks-storage section for a while now, given it's borderline fragile, not- so-appealing condition. This bad boy has been a circulation stats machine. We've sent it hither and yon. However, when I stumbled across it today in our InterLibrary Loan department, I knew it was time for it to go.
You know how the paper in mass market paperbacks goes yellow? Well this book has gone right past yellow and is now the color of dirt. The discoloration has gotten so bad, that the dirt brown is now bleeding past the margins and landing on the first few words of each line.
In the grand scheme of things, considering it's a 18 year old paperback that has circulated 67 times in the past 6 years, it could probably look worse. That said, it didn't look anywhere near "good." So even though we had the last copy in the state, and even though it circulated a ton for us, it's time for it to go. The Tender Texan has moved past tender, and is now overcooked and chewy.
So yes, while a little piece of me died inside - I weeded it.
Because that's how all good librarians should roll.
Oh, and in case anyone at Berkley is reading this? Maybe it's time to reprint some older Jodi Thomas. Just sayin'.
Assuming I'm doing my math right (always doubtful) this book circulated 32.6865 times every year, for the past 6 years. That sounds awfully high though. Especially when considering a 3-week check-out period. I wonder if this was an instance where our circulation stats actually carried over from our previous automation system? Either way, I'd say we got our money's worth out of the $4.95 this title originally cost. Holy crap!
And since I'm sure someone will bring it up in the comments section, yes - an ebook version would be nice. However I don't see libraries throwing print out on it's ear anytime soon. So yeah, print would be good.