Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Keeping Your Library Collection Smelling F.R.E.S.H!

Hulten, Alicia

LaGarde, J. (2013, October 1). Keeping Your Library Collection Smelling F.R.E.S.H! [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Summary: Jennifer LaGarde is a teacher librarian with over 20 years’ experience in public education. In this online article, she offers several reasons why it is important to weed the school library’s collection. It is easy to imagine the difficulty of getting rid of old, dated books especially when you have an already small collection and insufficient funding to replace those books. However, holding on to outdated can be detrimental to a well-built library collection in several ways.

  • Misinformation: Material that is out of date could contain misinformation and do more harm than good. For example, LaGarde found a reference book that said “scientists do not believe HIV is transmitted through sexual content”[sic] (LaGarde, 2013). It is important to ensure library shelves are free of old materials which may contain this and other kinds of misinformation. 
  • Text poor: These books are often text feature poor. Newer books contain captions, diagrams, bullet points, sidebars, and fact boxes. These text features help students learn and retain information more readily.
  • A books cover: Readers in fact do judge a book by its cover. Students who see a book that looks dated and/or is in disrepair, then will most likely not want to check it out. Today’s readers want colorful, glossy covers that have eye-catching art/photos.
  • The times they are a-changin’: Older books reflect the time in which they were written. As librarians we have to make sure our nonfiction books are equitable and reflect modern viewpoints. Likewise, fiction and picture books should be reflective of the diverse population of the school and the larger community.
  • Small but mighty: It is better to have a smaller collection of newer, high interest books, than rows and rows of old, dated books. Holding on to old collections could give library visitors the impression that the library is outdated and obsolete.

The article also includes a link to an entertaining video of CSLA’s Book Cart Drill Team performing “Weed It!” to the tune of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It!” Lagarde also provides a helpful flyer that can be downloaded as a PDF. The flyer offers tips for keeping your library’s collection F.R.E.S.H. She asks the following questions:
Does it Foster a love of reading?
Does it Reflect your diverse population?
Does it reflect an Equitable point of view?
Does it Support the curricula?
Is it a High-quality text?
If the answer is no to any one of these questions, then Lagarde claims the book must go.

Opinion: This article offers a concise and clear reminder of why it is so important to weed old books out of the school library. She makes a valid point that holding on to out of date materials can hinder a library’s function as a place where the love of reading is cultivated and grows. Fostering this love of reading within a school library can be difficult if the collection consists of books that students do not want to check out. LaGarde’s article provides a fresh look at weeding, and a good reminder to school librarians that weeding is not only important but necessary.

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