Weeding decisions?

Barbara Brown has a question:

I am removing adult Christian fiction books that were published before 2000 from our church library.  Are there any authors/books you consider "classics" and would not remove their books?   Do you have any Non-fiction authors that you keep all their books or books you consider "classics" in the non-fiction section.

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  • We have space issues too, so we have had to do a couple of things. We have two shelving units right outside our library, one for new books that are up to 3 or 4 months and a shelf that holds books that are featured for the month. This takes a good number out of the library. Obviously, they end up being shelved eventually, but in the meantime, we can give a bit more time before actually removing older books. 

    Another idea we have implemented is to take holiday books, i.e. Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc., and store them in bins to keep the shelves free for year-round books.  We purchased endcap shelving to put the featured items on as well. 

    In the end, when we finally have to remove books we take out those that have not been used for 5+ years. We focus on obscure authors that did not go out during the time they were in their prime. Classics and Good Reads (those not from Christian publishers) sometimes are better in the Christian message than some of the Christian-published books, so we have to use discernment for those to be removed. 

    I think that the removal of books is a constant challenge for librarians even if space is not an issue. Keeping the library alive and impacting our families to equip them for Christ is our goal and we determine titles based on this.  

  • Thanks to everyone who responded. I appeciate all the good sugestions.  We have completely run out of space in the library and have to remove books in order to make room for newer ones.  Presently, we have over 9100 items and some of them are on our rolling cart because we just don't have room to put them on the shelf where they belong.

  • You should have de-selection as part of your selection policy that will explain the rationale for removing materials.  I think of removing classics like I do when I am deciding to get rid of clothes in my closet.  I may have items that will never go out of style that I want to keep, but there are also things that are not in style.  If I have room, I can keep them in case they come back in style.  But some things need to go.  They may have a tear, stain, or they are just plain worn out or maybe don't fit anymore.  It's hard for someone else to make these decisions for me.  So, in the same way it will be hard for us to tell you what authors to keep.  A couple of classic authors I might keep that I can think of off the top of my head are C.S. Lewis and Oswald Chambers, but at present our library's selection policy doesn't have a special "classics" list of authors to retain.  But we could add one if we decide we need it in the future.

  • I can understand doing this if you have space limitations.  However, I do see good reasons for hanging on to books that are older.

    One reason is that some older works are just worth reading!  I'm not, of course,  saying hang on to everything; we don't do that either.  But I am not sure that "age" is the best reason for weeding books out.

    Another reason is that in most churches, people are constantly leaving, and being replaced by new people who start coming.  For those people, the library might be a brand-new thing, considering how many churches don't actually have one. For people like this, having access to good Christian literature that isn't brand-new could be a great thing.  About a year ago, a couple started coming to our church and immediately found the library.  The wife was thrilled and began reading fiction - in the A's.  She is working her way through our entire collection.  We think this is great because she sometimes tells us when she read a book or series that is absolutely worth keeping.

  • We have over 10,000 titles in our library and do not get rid of older authors from a "date" standpoint, but rather have been promoting them as a "Blast from the Past Author" where we bring up a little bit about the author and then the titles we have in our library. If they are featured then we display their books for the month. We have also asked some of our patrons to read and evaluate the older titles to see if they should be removed. I asked a patron to read the big historical series by Gilbert Morris and she so loved it that she talked about it to others and it had renewed popularity.  I was actually disappointed because I had hoped to remove his large collection. HAHA. 

  • Adair Elwing Reply:


    I would remove books that had not been checked out whatever the year before removing anything before a certain year. Because often when someone "finds" a "new" author they want to read everything that author has written. In fact I was told I should get rid of the Grace Liningston Hill books pulled them to do so and a teenager came in asking if we had any so now have people reading (or re-reading) her and she was definely before 2000.

    • Grace Livingston Hill is one of my absolute favorite authors. I recently read a few of her boods to get my fix. I don't read them regularly but now and then. I have a bookcase with just her paperbacks. I've questioned my madness because I'm basically the only one that reads them. I suggest her books to readers but only a few appreciate her books. I just can't make myself get rid of them. 

      • I appreciate certain ones of Grace Livingston Hill and so those I have on my kindle so I can appreciate them and have given her space as well as a few others in her time period to the more updated books of interest to our congregation. 


    • Barbara Brown Reply:

      Thank you for your comments.  

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