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Friday, April 16, 2010

Where Have the Books Gone?

“Where have the books gone? I was in the library the other day and noticed some empty shelves.” Keeping available materials current and pertinent are part of the duties of the Newton Falls Public Library staff. The task is called weeding and, as in gardening, it means to remove what is not wanted to make room for what is needed. As in your garden, it also means that you are able to enjoy more items without digging through that which is no longer useful.

Some items may not have been weeded, but transplanted. Before the Internet, libraries kept large collections of reference materials, books which could only be used in the library. We have recently chosen to move many of these items to the circulating collection, where patrons may now borrow them to use at home.

“But how do you decide what to take away and what to leave?” We look at materials which no one has borrowed from the library for at least four to five years and make decisions on the disposition of these materials based on several things.

• Is the information current? This is very important when looking at items concerning medicine, law, science, and the Internet.

• Are there other books available on this subject that people are selecting instead of these?

• Does the library have multiple copies of a title that is no longer in high demand?

“What happens when you are done?” The books withdrawn from the collection are given new life. Some of them are sent to the public schools for use in their libraries and classrooms. Others are placed in the Friends of the Library’s book sales, where people in the community may purchase them. The Friends use the money raised to help support library programs throughout the year. This support allows the library to offer these programs at no cost to those attending. The next book sale will be held on Saturday, April 24 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

As in a garden, the space created by weeding allows us to have space on the shelves for new materials. These new items are purchased to meet the current needs and interests of our community.

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