Weeding your School Library


How do your students get on when they look for a resource in your library? Can they find it easily or do they have to contend with crowded shelves and old, unappealing resources. How can you
make sure that your students find the best material for their reading and research. Kia ora. Welcome to our video on weeding your school library. Weeding your resources is an essential
part of keeping your library collection relevant, vibrant and accessible. Some of us find it difficult to throw
away library resources for all sorts of reasons: small budgets, resistance from other
people, fear of making a wrong choice, however library resources have a shelf
life just like any other item. New discoveries are made, facts and attitudes change, trends come and go, and items that spread
misinformation and outdated views can be misleading and
hurtful and undermine the value of your students
research. At its best your collection will engender
a love of reading in your students and teachers and will provide access to the best
quality information resources available. Weeding is just one process in your
collection management arsenal that you can use to support your
school community in their quest for knowledge and great reading. Our
resources will help you make confident focused decisions about what to weed. Remember too that there is more
information on our website at So before you start weeding what do you need to do? First it’s a good
idea to consider how much of the collection you want to weed in one go. If you haven’t done this recently it
might be good to weed the whole collection. This will give you a baseline to operate
from in the future. Or, especially if you are
in a large school you could make a plan to tackle one
major section at a time so that over one to two years you’ve
covered your whole collection. If you have been weeding regularly or if a major weed has been done in the
last two to three years then you could select a specific section
to work on. For future reference it’s a good idea to document your
approach in your school library handbook. Your library management system can be used to find out how often an item has been issued and to generate a print out for items that haven’t been borrowed in the last three to five years to create a shortlist of potential
discards. You’ll want to consider who to involve in the process. We recommend involving the teaching
staff when weeding the library. Having a small team to consult with
means better transparency and understanding of the rationale and the
processes involved with weeding. At secondary level you will need to
consult with subject specialists. Involving the staff gives them the
opportunity to explore what is in the library and to discover any gaps that might need
filling. Make sure that everyone understands and is clear about your weeding criteria before starting. Have some post-its and pens handy as
weeding often turns up a number of issues with resources in the collection. You will most likely end up with a
number of piles of resources: Resources that you would like to promote
to your students. Specific resources that you would like
to replace. Topics to be replaced. Items for mending. Items for transferring to teacher
resources. Items that need to be reclassified so
that they can be more easily found. And items for weeding. So, how are you going to decide which
resources you are going to weed? If you are new to weeding or would find it
helpful to follow a flow chart, we’ve created one that shows the whole
process. You can find this on our website. The first thing to
consider when you assess an individual item is its visual appeal and physical condition. Appearance makes a huge difference to whether your students want to use an item or not. If the production and images are outdated it probably won’t appeal to your
students. Students are unlikely to want an item that is damaged. If an item is damaged it’s best to weed it and
get a replacement if it is a popular title or topic. Most
school libraries don’t have the space to keep irrelevant and unnecessary stock. The best way to know if a resource is
no longer relevant to your collection either for reading or research, is to
talk to your students and teachers and find out more about their interests. Collaboration and communication are essential for a successful school library. Weeding the collection is
another opportunity to create and strengthen relationships with other members of your educational
community. Another thing to consider when weeding an item is its suitability for students. Most of us
don’t have time to look at every item that comes into our collection. Sometimes resources are added that turn out to be inappropriate in terms of their reading level or subject
matter. If an item is too difficult for your most competent students or is on a topic that is inappropriate
for the age level of your students then it’s best to take it out of your
collection. When you are weeding your collection you will also need to
consider the currency of the information and the attitudes presented in an item. It is important to remove resources that
contain outdated or inaccurate information or have attitudes that might now be
considered offensive and hurtful. While it might not matter so much whether Pluto is considered a planet or a dwarf Planet, it does matter if you
have books on the weather and environmental issues that don’t address climate change. When you
are deciding to weed non-fiction titles the publication date that you use to guide
your weeding practice will vary according to the area of knowledge. For example, science and technical topics date more quickly than the arts and poetry. Other criteria to
consider when looking at non-fiction titles include how the material is presented and
whether there is good access to the information in the book. Is there a contents page? Is there an index? Does the book contain a glossary, bibliography and references to other
resources? In junior non-fiction are the key words
highlighted? Is the flow of information and diagrams easy and logical to follow? Is there better
and more current information available online in resources such as Encyclopedia
Britannica online, which is free to all New Zealand schools? Still unsure? Check the item’s issue
statistics. If it hasn’t been borrowed recently you can
either promote to your students if you think they may be interested or ask your teachers if it supports a topic
that’s going to be taught again soon. If you think it isn’t suitable for
promotion, one last thing to check is whether it has
special relevance to your community or if it has New Zealand content that
might not be available or in print anywhere else. New Zealand,
Maori and Pasifika material is often published in small print runs
and may be difficult to replace. If it’s beyond the reading level of your
students relocate it in the teacher resource
collection. If an item no longer meets any of the criteria we have talked about then it’s time to weed it. To finish off the process of weeding resources from your school
library here are a few of the steps you need to take: When disposing of your weeded books
consider carefully whether the weeded item really has any further life or
whether it’s time to take it permanently out of circulation. Although there are many good intentions
around sending weeded books on to other organisations or countries often these items are not appropriate.
Once you have weeded your collection make sure that you keep the process
ticking along. Keeping your collection fresh and relevant will ensure that your students and
teachers easily find great reads and great information. Happy weeding!

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2 thoughts on “Weeding your School Library”

  1. Trenton Livengood says:

    clicked on this bc it said weed

  2. IcyWarrior Gaming says:


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