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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Why I’m not joining the great race to weed

I wrote the following as an email to my middle school colleagues in Nashville. We have a two-tiered funding system for library funding. If you do not meet the state minimum standards and you have fewer than 12 items per student (projected only 10 items per student next year), then you will receive $15 per student funding.

If you DO meet the minimum requirements, you will receive half as much funding or only $7.50 per student. Because of this, many librarians on the cusp rush to weed. In response, I wrote the following:

I have to laugh and hope you will laugh with me about our desperate race to weed.  There is no way my holdings collection is going to be weeded down to less than 12 items per student. Why? Because those are the state minimum standards. In a wonderful world we would have 20 items per student. Of course I would like to receive $15 per student to buy books, but I’m not going to weed out the excellent titles I have to try to trick the system. Currently I have 13,247 items including biography, easy, fiction, nonfiction, paperback, professional & reference materials. With an estimated 880 students * 12 that equals 10,560 so I am over by 2700 titles.

I have several hundreds more titles in nonfiction to add because we are lucky at JFK. I am receiving lots of extra nonfiction titles to review for my blog and the book I’m writing. You are welcome to come over and view these at any time. We have some amazing titles from Marshall Cavendish, Lerner, Enslow, Norwood Press, Abdo, Rosen, Capstone, Bearport, etc. We have one of the largest nonfiction collections in Nashville and there is no way I could bring my numbers below 12 items per student. I’d be weeding out more than 1/4 of the collection once I finish donating all of these review books to the collection.

I have areas of my inherited collection that are still really weak. My fairytales and folklore, animals, and poetry collections are pathetic so far and don’t meet the research needs of my students. My biographies are used so extensively that they need a massive overhaul. I am always looking for help to ADD TO THE COLLECTIONS.

When J.T. Fisher came by recently from Children’s Plus books, I asked him to help me make a list of titles of poetry. He did this over the weekend and was able to upload it to the Children’s Plus site so I could go in, edit, add, delete, etc. This is a big time-saver for me, too. What other vendors have you found that offer this service?

As far as fiction, I could spend $10,000 dollars and I would still not have enough for our students. They are very demanding and have learned that they can request additional titles, so they do. I had 127 requests placed in our bag on the counter so far for different books that students desperately want. They visit the public library and bookstores to make lists. They search online through teenreads, teensreadtoo, and goodreads. They go to our website and submit titles anonymously I will have to continue to proactively find ways to raise money for books to meet their needs beyond weeding.

I believe in weeding. JFK’s collection began in 2001 so we have not had the problem of seriously out of date items so far. Our circulation is high enough that we have had to weed mainly for poor physical condition. This year the first 3 weeks of school our circulation was up over 400%. I hope that it continues this year.

One of the new teachers to our building stated, “I have never been in a school where the students read so actively. When they finish their work, they read. They carry library books and books from home with them everywhere. I even have problems getting them to stop reading and they would never miss a chance to go to the library to exchange books.” She tried to attribute this to our environment. I know it’s because we HAVE the books the students WANT to read.

Thanks for letting me share.