Day 4 of the Advent posting concerns book purging.
As many of you will know, I’ve just started a part-time job as a primary school librarian. A fantastic job, especially as the school has found the budget to resituate their school library into the old ICT room. This is a wonderful space – it’s the size of a regular classroom, has been recently redecorated, has high ceilings, massive windows and doors leading into a courtyard garden. There are plans underway to create an outdoor reading area in the warmer, drier weather, where children can sit and read amongst the plants and bird feeders. It’s truly a reading paradise for children, and they are always eager to come in and browse and just sit and read.
When I arrived one of the tasks I was given was to purge the library of its very old and battered books. With more than 8,000 books on its shelves, it was quite a task, and is still something I am trying to finish off. However, I have one huge problem.
As a bibliophile, I can’t bear the idea of throwing books out (well, recycling them). All books are precious, so having to cull them down is incredibly hard. I have got better as the weeks have progressed but I still feel a pang of guilt when I pick my next victim.
The main criteria for getting rid of a book are:
– damage to the covers that is irreparable
– ripped, stained or hugely creased pages
– outdated titles (where being up to date is vital)
– dirty books (eg stained covers or pages, grimy covers from overuse)
So far I think I have disposed of a couple hundred books. I have ordered new ones to replenish the stock so I feel a little better – it’s like cutting down a Christmas tree and planting a new one in its place for ecological purposes! The ones destined for recycling are unfortunately too damaged to be reused by others – my thoughts were that if I wouldn’t want to buy it for my house (and I buy a lot of second-hand books) then I wouldn’t pass it on to someone else. Books should be a treat, something you want to hold in your hands and admire.
We’re gradually getting there. I still need more copies of popular titles – which seem to be the Dork Diaries, Harry Potter series, Beast Quest, Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, David Walliams (any of his titles!), Minecraft and picture books by Julia Donaldson, for example.
How do you purge your books at home or at work? Do you feel guilty getting rid of old stock?