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Managing the Youth Collection: Weed to Thrive

Like a garden, a collection needs to be weeded regularly in order to thrive. Many weeds are beautiful, but left to their own devices they will take over a garden and drown out the things you are actually trying to grow. A library is the same. We must weed out grubby and unwanted items to make room for popular titles, and attractive copies of classics, and other materials to round out our collections.

Just a few grubby items from juvenile fiction
Just a few grubby items from juvenile fiction

When I began in my current library, the collection needed to be weeded badly. Popular items were falling apart, and other items (including a vintage 1983 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles chapter book, which I failed to take a picture of!!) had been sitting so long that glue dust flew from the binding when opened. By the time I finished Juvenile Fiction (chapter books), more than 1500 items were discarded or replaced. Look how pretty the stacks look now!

juvenile shelves post weeding

Do not put off weeding until you are in this situation! Sit down right now and make a weeding plan. Decide the order in which collections will be addressed, and/or assign collections to staff members to focus on.  Determine the criteria you will use for weeding, and how you and staff will regularly fit time into your schedules for this important task. Look at your budget to determine how much money can be allocated to replacing shabby copies, or filling gaps in series and subjects.

Revamped Series Section
Revamped Series Section

If you have a large weeding project like mine, make a plan for how you plan to use the additional shelf space- displays? special pull out collections? a passive program in the stacks? -to get jazzed about the possibly daunting task before you. Motivate yourself and your staff by keeping track of circulation statistics and taking before and after pictures.


Go forth and weed!


Consider these sources for more on weeding:


“Why We Weed” from Awful Library Books.


-The CREW method (pages 69-70 are specific to youth collections) may be especially helpful if you are new to weeding. Keep in mind, however, that depending on your community and the use of your collections, the number of years you allow an item to sit on the shelf may vary. In my library, most juvenile fiction items sitting for more than one year need to be reviewed, as this is a high circulating collection. They may be put on display, or find themselves in the book sale.


Weeding Library Collections: A Selected Annotated Bibliography for Library Collection Evaluation from the American Library Association


Today’s blog post was written by Kendra Jones, a Children’s Librarian at the Tacoma Public Library in Tacoma, WA on behalf of the ALSC Managing Children’s Services Committee.


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