Patrons bid on mystery boxes of weeded books

Here's how the Fort Vancouver Regional Library (WA) deals with weeded (excuse me, deselected) books: They box them up randomly and offer them to bidders who have no idea what they'll be getting. The library made a little over $2100 on 76 boxes of least enough to recoup the cost of advertising. There's also some explanation of why and how libraries weed (excuse me, deselect). More here from The Columbian.

Here's another lengthy, older piece on weeding that I found this weekend, as the library where I work is about to undergo a serious weeding (excuse me, deselecting) project. It's from Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life.


I did so many weeding projects, I think I can recite from memory my list of what stays on the shelf even if out of date and never used:Written by a faculty memberMemorial purchase with bookplateoutstanding anatomy illustrationshistory of science valuehistory of veterinary medicine value19th century or olderoriginal title from the private collection donated to start the libraryprovenance--gift of a former dean or prominent alumnus.I just liked it.

My favorite euphemism for throwing away books is "deacquisition," because acquisition is more comprehensive and expensive than selection and involves just about everyone in the system, from the bindery to the mail room, not just the selector.

What's wrong with weeding? When you weed a garden you remove unwanted material in the hopes of making room for the growth of current materials and the acquisition of newer materials. In the case of a garden, it's plants and flowers. In the case of a library, it's books, DVDs, CDs, etc.

Do people really analyze the meaning of some of these words and where else they're used? My opinion is that, if the word isn't used anywhere else outside your small field it's either jargon or bullshit. I consider weeding to be an honest word. Deseleting makes no sense. If you deselect something, then you've made a selection but you've changed your mind. Kinda like checking a box on a website and then clearing the check. Ever heard the word deselection outside of the field? When was the last time your friend said they went through their cluttered garage and deselected a few tools to sell in a yard sale? Deacquire is the same thing. You don't need to add a prefix to a word to make it opposite when a viable and suitable alternative exists. I didn't deacquire that old print out, I threw the sucker away.


Nice rant. You're good. But "acquisition" is a technical term which in libraries, means a whole lot more than when consumers "acquire" stuff. And weeding is a fun word, and we all use it, but outsiders don't have a clue when we say that we "weed collections," any more than "deselect." Nor do they have any concept of the volume of rules that may go into it.

All fields have special jargon. Recently, I deselected from my husband's waste basket, a vocabulary sheet of masonry terms. I don't have it with me (at the Lake), but I was amazed to see the way everyday words had been converted to technical terms in another field. We are not alone in using the marvelous English language, which has more words than any other, to expand on what we do.