I haven’t seen this on Tumblr yet so I wanted to share to see what the Tumblarian thoughts were on this issue.

We get rid of books that are falling apart or have outdated information, yes, but we also get rid of books that don’t circulate.  I just got rid of a book that has been in our system for 7 years and circulated four times in that time period.  The last time was three years ago.  This book was in gorgeous condition, it was fiction so the information wasn’t out dated, but nobody wanted to read it.  If the public doesn’t want to read the books, why have them on the shelves?  If libraries never got rid of books then we would never get new books.

Books aren’t kittens, it’s okay to throw them away.

It’s essential to weed out material that doesn’t circulate in favor of providing shelf space for new books that might be of more interest to patrons. The one library I interned at did yearly weeding and got rid of things that hadn’t been out in five years. It makes no sense to keep things that people aren’t interested in.

I agree with everyone on the weeding- it has to be done for the collection to remain relevant. However, my professor in library school used to tell us stories of public librarians pitching books into dumpsters at midnight so as not to be caught because people freak out when their “tax dollars are thrown away.” I recognize now that the public opinion of weeding is different than the librarian’s understanding and it can be bad PR if not handled well (not that these people handled it wrong, I am just saying in general.

When books are in good condition, I think it’s important to make a good faith effort to give them away. Our library doesn’t discard books until we’ve offered them on our state libraries mailing list. Libraries with Friends stores might want to ship their discards there.

Even if you wind up throwing stuff away, having a documented process that shows you tried to adopt them out will offer your library protection against charges of being wasteful.

If you haven’t been thoroughly frustrated today, make sure you check out the comments section of the article where helpful citizen suggest we send our outdated science and travel books to poor countries!

In response to lecieltumultueux:I should clarify that “good condition” includes “not so outdated to be useless.” No one is served by outdated science. Outdated travel could be useful to collections studying perceptions of regions changing over time. But that’s not sending it to a public library in Nairobi – usually.

Fairfax Co. libraries tossed thousands of books in the trash

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