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Inside Practically Paradise

Limitless Libraries and Weeding lists

The day has arrived. It looks like Nashville’s budget is going to include the elementary school libraries in the Limitless Library program next year. This will add tremendous access to the Nashville Public Libraries to our collections. It has been a wonderful program at the high school and middle school level. I am very supportive and excited to be part of this.

At the same time the program is geared towards cleaning up collections to weed out older materials and create gaps or opportunities for the public library to help the school library. One of the first steps involves the public library using Karen Lowe’s weeding formulas to create lists of materials to either keep, evaluate, or discard. These are simply quick guidelines and it is still up to the school librarian to make the final decisions. They are formula based on the copyright age only.

I received my lists last week. When I came to my school this year, I realized the reference collection needed serious weeding. I took out the worst offenders, but left some series since the principal was concerned that I not take all without replacing. To comply with the weeding lists, my principal is going to be shocked at how little is left.

I purchased the Britannica Student Encyclopedia this year and have been teaching all my encyclopedia skills through it and my online sets of Britannica and World Book. That expense took a major portion of my budget and I couldn’t afford any other reference sources.

When I received the weeding list for reference, only five titles are listed in the keep section. All the others are listed as to be evaluated or discarded. I can discard the 167 other titles and I will be left with these five titles.

  • The World Book dictionary from 2007
  • 2006 World Book Student Discovery Encyclopedia
  • 2008 World Book Encyclopedia
  • Britannica student encyclopedia 2012
  • Titanic by Jenkins, Martin. 2008 (although I think it’s only in reference because it’s oversized).

All the science encyclopedias, biographical dictionaries, atlases, dictionaries, thesaurus, picture dictionaries, and even the only Tennessee biographical dictionary are slated for removal. Do I take a leap of faith and just get rid of all of those?

I had left the endangered species encyclopedia set from 1995 since next year the entire school will have a theme of dinosaurs and endangered/extinct animals as their PBL (project based learning project) for nine weeks. My thoughts were those sets would at least provide names of animals for my students to research whether they continue to be on the endangered and extinct list or whether their status had improved. If I simply go with the weeding lists, I will have nothing.

My school is a STEM school – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. I need access to up-to-date reference materials and nonfiction. Will the public library budget be able to replace titles to meet our needs? I will keep you informed as we progress.

I don’t even want to mention how ridiculous the list is for easy books. According to a computer formula, all old picture books would go including Newbery and Caldecott winners, early Berenstain bear titles, Miss Nelson is Missing and more. I’m glad that I will be able to use my own judgement on these lists because a computer will never be able to replace the brain of a librarian.