e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Library weeding

weeding manual

On the BBC website today I came across an article titled The Library of Lost Books, about old, discarded library books being turned into works of art. The book collection concerned is curated in Birmingham by artist Susan Kruse, and from 6th to 24th of this month the artists creating the artworks have an exhibition at the Library of Birmingham.

Having read about it I wondered if any other libraries had similar exhibitions or projects, so I googled ‘discarded library books’. I expected to have to try several search terms and to find there wasn’t much. How wrong can you be! Google found over 4 million items. Most of them are probably irrelevant but even the first page gave me lots of things to think about.

There was an article on Why we Weed, several on systems used to do the weeding, and even a ‘how to’ manual (see picture).

The Canberra Times had an article on The Library of Discarded books in which the author complained about so many books being destroyed and the whole activity being ‘done secretly’. I was surprised; in my local libraries there are always shelves of unwanted books for sale and I assumed this was the usual way of getting rid of them. But not so in in Australia apparently. Now I wonder if the books up for sale are just a handful of what is weeded out and, in the dead of night, muffled carts haul loads of unwanted works to landfill.

A google of ‘artworks out of books’ proved a better search for my original question, and again there were a huge number of hits. Perhaps someone could tell the secretive Australian librarians that there is an alternative to landfill.


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