Sometimes, regardless of our job titles, responsibilities, or skills, we are asked (or we offer) to take on new tasks. That can be frustrating (in my case, covering a bookstore café as a non-coffee drinker). It can also be fun (I got to do story time). Sometimes it’s temporary, sometimes permanent — and sometimes, you really need support, training, or other guidance to do the job independently and gain confidence in your new responsibility. 

When it comes to working in a library, you might not be asked to whip up a cappuccino (I never really did get the hang of the steamer). But it’s quite likely that if you work reference, readers’ advisory, circulation, or other areas, you’ll be asked to help maintain the integrity, relevance, and currency of your library’s collection. And that’s where Core Collections can provide the support you might need to have confidence in your decisions to replace, rebuy, or even purchase in the first place). 

And Core Collections is particularly helpful when you are asked to weed. Culling a collection fairly can be challenging — especially for those who love books (or particular kinds of books). Your personal biases and interests might lead you to keep more cookbooks than I might feel are necessary; I might keep more books about dog behavior than are strictly needed; my husband would want all the books on running to stay, regardless of age, condition, circulation stats, readability, reviews, etc. (Fortunately, he has no responsibility for any collection other than the one in our home).  

Core Collections is an unbiased, neutral authority on books in all areas of your collection. They can help you make fair decisions about which books to keep. Along with your circulation stats and your familiarity with your community’s needs, Core Collections give you a better understanding of what your library has and what your library can do with it. For example, if you have multiple copies of an older title that still gets read regularly and one is particularly dingy, toss it. But if you find a low-circ title that has value? Sometimes you just need to promote it (and books like it) better — with a display, with a shelf talker, as part of a booklist, promoted to book clubs or other programming audiences, and so on. 

Collections are full of hidden gems and probably some junk, no matter how assiduous your collection development strategy is. And no matter how well you think you know your library, there is always something new to discover. Weeding is one way to uncover the parts of your collection you didn’t know you had — or didn’t know you didn’t have. You will also likely come across something new you want to read, which... I can’t help you there. Just try not to get too distracted. 

Looking for an authoritative source to use while weeding your collection?

Shauna Griffin is a Senior Collection Development Librarian at NoveList. She is currently reading The Day the World Stops Shopping by J. B. MacKinnon.