I knew in January that this semester would be busy with the renovations beginning in May, but I wasn’t quite prepared for it, not really.
After the last meeting with the architects, I was told that I would need to get rid of about 8,000 books to reduce the collection to 10,000. I almost cried – actually, I think I did shed a few tears before the day was over. The tears were not for the loss of so many books, but for the loss of the space I’d worked so hard for the last 18 months to create, and the loss of the “library” as I knew it.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m the first to embrace technology, eBooks, Web 2.0 tools, and such. Digital literacy was my focus throughout grad school. I just get a little nostalgic for the way things used to be sometimes. Part of me misses searching for books using the card catalog.
Suffice it to say, I had a monumental task that lay before me and needed a plan. So I asked myself, “Self, what would Barbara Gordon do?
Since I’d already weeded several sections last spring, I decided to begin where I left off – the 300’s and go section by section until I had gone through every single book in my library. Not only did I clear entire shelves of books, but I also staged each shelf similar to book stores and photographed each section before and after.
No sooner had I finished one section, the books started flying off the shelves. Keep in mind, I was working in the 300’s – not the fairy tales or true crime sections either – I was right in the middle of economics and government. Teachers would walk by to see what I was up to on their way to their monthly meetings and, as if by magic, a book would catch their attention. I had more folks – students and teachers alike – make the same few comments: “I didn’t know we had this book!” and “Are these new?” and my personal favorite “Ooh! Can I check this one out?”
At this point, I had become obsessed with weeding. I looked forward to each new conquest and eagerly anticipated finding the next “gem” that should’ve been retired decades earlier (but due to former accreditation standards, these books were retained simply to satisfy quotas – number of books per student).
I found a book on steroids from the early ’90’s – which may not sound that old, but the guy on the cover was sporting a mighty fine mullet with a perm. Moving down the shelves into the section on various communicable diseases (616.9), I discovered that VD was all the rage in the ’70’s. Sadly, even the book entitled “The Love Bug” had to go. But the most memorable find was “The Dating Book: A Guide to the Social Scene” circa 1983. This little gem had some “student annotations” that certainly spiced up the content a tad (watch out E.L. James!). This book was mistakenly pulled from the shelf during my library orientation scavenger hunt (which reinforced the need to teach students how to read spine labels), and subsequently checked out by a student later that same day. Not only did this student take the book home, but she showed it to her parents. Oh, the horror! Needless to say, that one provided hours of laughs, so much so that I kept it.
After two and a half months of 10.5 – 12 hour days, I had weeded a grand total of 6,665 books, 4,955 nonfiction and 1,710 fiction. I must admit that I was a little bummed when the weeding was finished, mostly because I knew what was next: packing it all up. But that’s another story . . .