Feedback: Letters to LJ

March 1, 2013 Issue

Weeding lessons
After reading Michael Kelley’s editorial on Melvil Dewey and weeding (“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Dust,” LJ
2/1/13, p. 8), I remembered my first library position of nearly 30
years ago. It was my first full-time librarian position, and, with
diploma in hand, I was ready to be the best library media specialist the
world had ever experienced. I was sure I could do it all. I joined
every committee, judged and organized media fairs, and worked after
school hours…. Even the classroom teachers loved me. Life was good.
Then, suddenly, I became the enemy. I didn’t know what
had caused this drastic turn of events, so I decided to speak with the
school principal. I told him just what I have written here, and without
further discussion, he asked me to have a seat. Then he closed his
office door, something he rarely did…. I was sure I was about to be
fired. As I bravely held back the tears, he patted my hand, told me to
relax, and spent a minute extolling me….
Before I could speak, he asked, “Have you started
weeding the collection?” I had indeed been doing that. Was I not allowed
to? I had learned how to perform this delicate operation in graduate
school. I knew I was doing it as I had been taught, so what was wrong?
My principal…said there were some things they didn’t teach you about
Here are his wise weeding ­instructions:
  1. Do not ever tell anyone—except me—that you are getting rid of
    library books. Every book you weed out of the collection will be
    someone’s favorite. They just haven’t had time to read it in the past
    ten years or so.
  2. Only weed books when no one else but me is in the building. Do not even trust the cleaning people; they might be informants.
  3. Schedule your weeding time with me, and I will help you carry the books to my ex-brother-in-law’s pickup.
  4. We will probably do our weeding after dark, so park your car down
    the street so that no one knows you are here. Dress in all-black
    clothing. Meet me in the back of the school by the sycamore tree.
  5. Bring a good flashlight. We don’t want to turn on the library lights; that might arouse suspicion.
  6. I will have had a large pit dug in the next county where we will bury the weeded books.
  7. When the weeding is done and someone asks for a book you have just
    weeded…look them in the eye and tell them that someone was seen here
    with a flashlight, loading books into an old pickup. They were last seen
    heading south.
Best advice I ever received!
—Debbie A. Ramirez, Lib. Dir.,
Vincennes Univ., Jasper, IN