When talking to a retired librarian the other day, we discovered that our least favourite aspect of library work was weeding. Weeding is a library staff’s way of removing unwanted materials from the shelves. While it is vital to growing and maintaining meaningful book collections, we both agreed that is was a little sad to have to dispose of or find new homes for items a library no longer had use for. After hanging up the phone, I realized that was exactly what I am currently experiencing with my own collection of books.
Ever since I began my quest to shape my apartment into a living space I can live with, I have been wrestling with all the items I had shipped from Winnipeg. Here I am all prepared to pare down, donate, get rid of, while at the same time, I’m trying to find places for the new stuff. It’s a strange dichotomy.
Even before I consciously chose to work on the two main bookcases (I have three) in the living room, I stopped borrowing books from the library. I wanted to concentrate on reading the ones I already owned. Over the years, I developed the bad habit of buying books or receiving them for gifts and shelving them without reading them. The idea behind this seemingly weird behaviour is to “discover” them at a later date.
But in actuality, what happens is I just end up with really crowded bookshelves. Of course, the influx of my dad’s John le Carré and Winston Churchill collections didn’t help matters. Now, I am rethinking the 50¢-bin mystery paperbacks; the $3.00 first author remainder selections; and the bulk-book-bargains that abound in big box stores and temptingly call out my name.
As far as weeding goes, I’m lucky enough that I don’t have to haul most of them very far. The residents of my apartment building are in the habit of leaving items we no longer want in the laundry room so they can be adopted by an interested party. I’m happier knowing that while these treasures don’t grace my library any more, they are welcome additions to other people’s book collections.