Gardeners know that weeding is necessary so they can remove unwanted vegetation that might crowd out their preferred plantings. We all know weeds can take over a lawn or a flower bed in no time. At the library, we must weed our collection of books and movies for similar reasons.

This periodic reassessment of materials should reflect the changes in the community and in the library’s goals. It helps make space for more current materials and it can help reduce damage to materials caused by overcrowding and space limitations. It helps ensure the materials we keep are attractive, useful and accessible.

As we review our stacks of books we follow some guidelines referred to by the acronym MUSTIE:
Misleading – it might be factually inaccurate; Ugly – if it’s worn beyond mending or rebinding; Superseded – it might have been superseded by a newer edition or by a much better book on the subject; Trivial – it may have no discernible literary or scientific merit; Irrelevant – it may have no relevance to the needs and interests of the library’s community; Elsewhere – the material is easily obtainable from another library.
Generally speaking we look for items that are over five years old, or that haven’t been checked out in three years. These are guidelines, but not hard and fast rules. Some books have enduring value as classics, or might be used for reference at some point.

There are similar guidelines for media. This time, the acronym is WORST: Worn out; Out of date; Rarely used; Supplied elsewhere; Trivial or faddish. Those of you who worry about book burnings, or finding these materials in the compactor can rest assured. They have several opportunities for salvation. First they are reviewed for salability, and are displayed on a rolling cart in the library for a month. If not purchased from the cart, they are boxed up for donation to concern, where their price will be reduced. If not sold there, they travel to Pittsburg to travel to other locations where they might end up overseas, or sent to a location for recycling.
If you’d like to grow your own garden of books, visit us at the turn of each month to view the items on the rolling cart. Some of these are nice enough to give as gifts, or to those less fortunate. Perhaps you will find children’s books to share with young friends. You might even find something new in our Little Free Library in front of the building.

Many other descriptions of this process can be found online. This one was derived from the Buffalo and Erie County, Public Library System in New York.