Planning for pruning

When at last we have a handle on what we have, what we don’t have, and what has already been acquired, there will come a (likely long needed) pruning of the collection. Pruning sounds so much better than weeding doesn’t it? Call it pruning, weeding, deselection, discarding, collection maintenance, or “throwing out books, you uncivilized lout!” it is a necessary part of collection development and management.

The time is not remotely close, but when it does arrive, the question will be what to do with the books that can no longer call the Warren home sweet home? A number of these books began their lives calling other libraries home. Can a book find a 3rd library home after 2 deselections? I have my doubts but I’m willing to try. On the other hand, we could run a deselection outlet online, selling those books which are too damaged to continue or which no longer fit within the library– if you know anyone who wants an old science textbook we can probably part with a few. But not the actual ancient ones, like Aristotle. Those still have a home.

There is an argument that is made that everything should be held because it has some historical value, however slight. Certainly there are books that, if held onto long enough, begin to have value on the other side. The question then is whether you can afford the maintenance and physical plant costs? Given the number of books awaiting processing, the answer is likely no. There will be a number of deselections in the future, and that is for the health of the collection. Never fear, I will not be taking this on alone. There is certainly be faculty input. In the meantime, I wonder how large an audience I’d have for those books we do eventually part ways with. Is there an audience? It would be a good bump to the library budget, for sure, and that is a practical consideration to be sure.


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