This year, I have been diligently weeding (library word for discarding old or worn out items) the library’s collection because we have a bunch of really old books and equipment that I have to dig through when I want to, you know, do my job. There are all different kinds of librarians–I know this might be a shock to those who think we are all the bun, sensible-shoe-wearing, glasses type. Some are more like Boy Scouts, keeping everything so they are prepared for every situation. I admire the heck out of those people but I think I am a little too disorganized too be one of them. I have to throw things away so I don’t get overwhelmed. The good news is that it’s extremely rare for me to throw something out and then need it, and that the more I get rid of, the more I am able to find the things I do need.
I worked in collection development (buying books and weeding the collection) way back in my public library days, and I loved that job a lot. That collection and I had a real understanding of each other, and it was a great honor to be its caretaker for a while. I am still getting to know the collection at my school, partly because there is so much of it that goes unused. That’s the part I am getting rid of, and as I free up the space, I have found that the books are speaking to me more than ever, as if they can finally breathe again. I imagine weeding is what being a sculptor is like, shaping the wood or the marble until you can see what is inside. Or you can picture me like Queen Elsa singing “Let it Go” to the books. Actually, that’s not a bad comparison, because I have had to learn not to mind what people say when you discard things, even broken computers or fifty-year-old books that are covered in dust. Or laserdiscs.
Letting all that stuff go makes me feel like I can breathe, too. Weeding the collection is always a good reminder of how great it is to make space, both to enjoy the things that I already have and so I can see where the collection needs to grow. If you need me, I’ll be the one covered in dust with a big smile on my face.