What Is Weeding? Why Does It Matter?

The other weekend I got it in my head that I wanted to watch the entire Mummy series of movies, from the first (The Mummy) to the last (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor). I went across the street to my local library branch and although I was able to find those two in the library system, the second entry in the series – The Mummy Returns – was weirdly missing. It’s without a doubt the worst in the series, but since it’s part of the series, it felt like required viewing for me… so I had to request it from another library and wait for its arrival in order to begin my movie marathon.

So what happened? The Mummy Returns was a popular movie when it came out, and obviously it’s newer than the first one. It may have been damaged or lost and never replaced, but it’s also likely that the DVD was “weeded,” or, in other words, removed from the library collection.

There are a lot of reasons for weeding. Most public libraries, for example, have limited physical space, and don’t have room to store every book ever written. In order to make room for newer, more relevant resources, they have to take things out of the collection once in a while. If certain kinds of resource are outdated or in poor condition, it’s probably a good idea to get rid of them in that case as well, since they aren’t going to be as useful as they otherwise could be. It makes it easier for most library patrons to find what they need. If a resource hasn’t been used for a while – my local library considers getting rid of items that haven’t been checked out or moved from the shelf in a year – then it’s also a candidate for the chopping block.

Which probably means I don’t get to watch my Mummy.

But what this also means is that sometimes books and movies that aren’t popular don’t get to stay at the library, regardless of how important it is they be accessible to the public. If they don’t get used within a certain span of time, librarians can’t predict whether or not they’ll be used in the future. Some libraries have policies to safeguard against getting rid of certain books and other resources, but policies can vary widely from one library system to the next, so it’s difficult to know whether any particular library will have a resource accessible.

My answer to this? Increase circulation! Every time I’m at the library I get a handful of books and movies out, even if I know I won’t have time to read or watch them all. I know I’m giving them a reprieve before they get weeded out. I live across the street from my local library branch, though, so this is an easy solution for me. What do you think might work? How would you make sure certain books stay accessible and available to the reading public?

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