Shelf. Life

A look at what's happening at Willard

How and why libraries ‘weed’ books

Have you ever wondered why your favorite book is no longer on the shelf at the library? Perhaps you checked it out years ago, but can't find it here any longer. Perhaps you've noticed that we have the first book in a series and the most current, but are missing the middle?

Willard library staff are constantly working to ensure that the collection meets our standards and that includes discarding, or what librarians call "weeding," much loved (i.e., very well worn) books. From cracked spines, ripped and yellowed pages, offensive stains, bubble gum stickies, and cigarette burns, we've seen it all!

We want you to have a wonderful reading experience and that includes providing you with quality materials.

In addition, we order dozens of new materials weekly. In 2020 alone, we ordered thousands of new books. These new books need a home and to accommodate them, we must make some tough choices.

Books that haven't been checked out in a number of years will sadly be on the list of items to be discarded to make room for the newbies.

So, what happens to deactivated books?

  • Some are donated to Better World Books, which repurposes books to other libraries and organizations. We use the money from Better World Books to purchase new materials.
  • Some are placed in the library book sale, and the funds are used to purchase new materials
  • Those which are damaged and in poor condition end up in the trash or recycling bin

What if I want to (re)read a discarded book?

  • Please let us know! Sometimes, we reorder these books if requested as long as they are still being printed by the publisher
  • Sometimes older, beloved books are reprinted, and we order updated editions as soon as we can without prompting (e.g. Dune preludes, Virgin River series, Bridgerton, and Octavia Butler reprints)
  • Sometimes discarded books are available on the library's ebook apps; if they cannot be replaced in print, we are happy to walk you through how to use Hoopla, Libby, or Overdrive.

What can I do to prolong the shelf life of my favorite books?

  • Please do not fold the pages or crease the covers in a way that breaks or cracks the spine. Eventually, the pages do fall out, and we will have to discard the title.
  • Please keep your favorite book away from anything that could cause staining or water damage (I love bathtub reading, but I am clumsy and have dropped a book or two into the suds … oops!)
  • Dogs, cats, and budding artists love books and paper. So, do we! Please be mindful of what your furry friends and young artists are doing.
  • Lastly, if you check out a book and notice that it is not in the best shape, please let us know so that we can replace it.

Jade is listening to "Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs: Big Questions From Tiny Mortals About Death" by Caitlyn Doughty.

Cracked spines (left and center) can lead to lose page (bottom).

Oops! A curious pup couldn't quite "behave."

Age and heavy use have stained these pages and warped their spines.

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Monday, 23 May 2022