Friday, December 14, 2007

Feeding the Beast

When I was in graduate school working towards certification as a school librarian, the program director, Joe, talked about “feeding the beast”; the beast, of course, being the library.

As Joe explained it, a library demands constant care and feeding in the form of things like collection development, processing books, cleaning, shelving, weeding, processing discards, inventory, shelf reading, and a thousand other tasks that eat away at a librarian’s time. The library is an insatiable beast. The trick is to balance the needs of the beast with the needs of the patron. Truly, it is about the patron, and not the beast. Without the patron, the beast has no reason to exist.

This year, my first as librarian here at CCHS, has been about feeding the beast, and hungry it has been. Updating a very aged collection, weeding old books, reviewing cataloging, floor plans, cleaning, and generally updating the library collection and facility.

The next step is when the real fun begins. Expanding student services, curriculum integration, planning and introducing new technologies to fuel student learning and creative expression, global awareness, and embracing 21st Century skills; these are ultimately the goals that take precedence over the growls of the beast.

There will always be a need to balance the needs of a library collection and facility with providing patron services, but the CCHS Library beast is a lot less hungry than it was before.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Library collections are a lot like gardens. They are dynamic, they change, they grow, and they can become cluttered and overrun with old growth. Like gardens, library collections need to be regularly weeded.
The CCHS Library staff has been busily pulling out-dated and damaged titles from the collection. Example of recent weeds are a dictionary from 1966 with multiple pages missing or torn. There was no mention of the Internet in this dictionary.
Nonfiction books relating to the sciences dating as far back as the 1910's have been removed. Books that have been on the shelves for 30+ years without ever being checked out have been removed.
Book lovers cringe when books are removed, but not all books are worth retaining. The mission of the CCHS Library is to support curriculum, and student learning. Having an appropriate and relevant collection is an important piece that allows us to meet our mission.