Controversial Weeding

Megan Hartline —  June 19, 2013 — 5 Comments
Gloved hand spraying a dandelion weed

Gentle Weeding

What would you do if you came back from vacation and found your library shelves half empty?

Tracy Nectoux wrote a thoughtful report on drastic weeding at the Urbana Free Library. The weeding, which affected about half the collection and used publication date as the only criterion, was initiated by the library director while the librarian responsible for the collection was out of town.

Noted curmudgeon-at-large and academic library blogger Barbara Fister has another take on this at Inside Higher Ed.

Nectoux reports that the good folks at Better World Books, who received the weeded books, are working with the Urbana Free Library to resolve the situation.

We could talk about weeding criteria all day, but I’d rather discuss the obligation we have as library leaders to consult with colleagues and staff when making decisions. What circumstances affect that obligation?

Megan Hartline


Megan Hartline (@awrybrarian on Twitter) is a librarian in Denver, Colorado. In addition to librarianship, Megan's background is in nonprofit leadership. She would love to visit your library to talk about management, workflows, or customer service.

5 responses to Controversial Weeding


    Wow. A less drastic version of this happened to me at a former job and the end result was me leaving. My feelings, as the recipient of such treatment were quite negative. I felt untrusted, demeaned and victimized. A simple conversation, in my case, would have solved everything. These kinds of situations show the importance of being a team leader. If the two librarians had drawn up a weeding plan together, they both would have been invested and could have stood together against any criticism.


      Oof, that sounds rough. I’m sorry you went through that!

      I agree that even unpopular decisions go down a little more easily if people at least hear about them ahead of time.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

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    […] library leaders, without committing the mistake that the Urbana Free Library director made, take a look around today at your library. Start with […]

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    […] WryLibrarian (aka Megan McGlynn) posted this story about the Urbana Free Library’s weeding problem.  As a weeding and collection quality […]

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