Library Fallacy: “Something is Better Than Nothing”


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hermionish.weedmeLike a garden, in order to make run for new growth, a library needs to be routinely weeded. Weeding or deselection also serves as a time to get rid of materials which are dated — think: non-fiction published 10 years ago — and those which are no longer circulating — think: early Dean Koontz books.

The practice is vitally important to all circulating libraries. It’s important enough that most library schools offer an entire course on collection development which features a unit on deselection of materials and the various best practices. The School of Library and Information Science at Wayne State University offered LIS 7340: Collection Development and Selection of Materials and I must say that it’s one (of several classes) which I utilize on an almost daily basis.

The Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science (ODLIS) by Joan M. Reitz defines ‘deselection':

In serials, the process of identifying subscriptions for cancellation, usually in response to subscription price increases and budgetary constraints. In book and nonprint collections, the process of identifying titles for weeding, usually on the basis of currency, usage, and condition. The opposite of selection.

I believe the practice of deselection to be especially important for the small, rural public library because shelf space is very limited and at a premium. Due to the library’s geographic location, access to materials via Interlibrary Loan (ILL) service can sometimes take several days to even weeks; therefore, it’s imperative that staff keep up and maintain rural library’s collection.

I’d like to break down the fallacy: “Something is Better Than Nothing.”


I’ve been working at weeding areas within my library’s collection and opted to get rid of our World Book encyclopedia set which was published in 2000 and which were rarely utilized.

Did I commit a “library sin”? Is it better to have something on a subject rather than nothing at all?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:hermionish.think1

  • Would you have a book on Iraq or Afghanistan which were published in 2001 sitting on the shelves in your non-fiction collection?
  • Would you have the book “Windows for Dummies” (published in 2002) sitting on the shelves?

Your answer should be a definitive and resolute: NO.

In the case of the World Book encyclopedia set: yes, it was expensive when it was initially purchased for the collection; however, it is now FOURTEEN YEARS OLD — well beyond it’s useful shelf life.

Think about how much has changed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. A Windows book published in 2002 would’ve likely been focusing on the XP-operating system – which Microsoft is no longer supporting. And the millennium edition of World Book encyclopedia? It would have no mention of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the Mumbai Attacks, Boston Marathon Bombing, or the death of Ariel Sharon…not mention the strides we’ve made in AIDS research.

Best practice: non-fiction items 10 years or older should generally be weeded from the collection – exception: pieces with historical focus such as books on the World Wars, Jim Crow, women’s suffrage, etc.

When it comes to time-sensitive topics involving medicine, law, and technology, those areas of the collection should be weeded/replaced every couple of years. Dated information on those subjects could be quite misleading and end up being downright dangerous for patrons. Clearly, having just ‘something’ on a subject for the sake of having it is NOT better — it’s foolish.

A memorable quote from librarian, Erin Schmändt – a 2005 SLIS alumna whom has been practicing librarianship for 13 years and the current director of Caro Area District Library:

Weed anything that doesn’t fit your community, no sinning necessary.

hermionish.think2In the case of the Dean Koontz’s early works — some of which are from the late 1970s — ask yourself the following:

  • Are they circulating? When was the last time? Within the last 3 years?
  • Are they available elsewhere and easily accessible? Does your library belong to a cooperative/consortium which partake in shared automation endeavors such as TLN or VLC? Are the books available via ILL — e.g. if you live in Michigan: MeLCat?

Want some more background on deselection/weeding? Check out these resources:



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Yesterday in the stacks, I overheard the following: “You’re just jealous that I’m reading a thick book!”

That completely made my day.

What also made my day: the fact that I finished editing an enormous batch of our bib records — everything that has been cataloged since February — which were then mapped as “not requestable” by MCLS and subsequently uploaded to the MeLCat server. My eyes were pretty shot by the time I finished that project, but I felt like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Managing new items in our collection will be made easier by using labeled lists within our ILS which serve to remind me to change their circulation status in 6 months thus triggering another upload to the MeLCat server.

Since I took a working lunch, I stepped out for about 20 minutes and finished reading Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein — companion novel to Code Name Verity. Excellent read!

(Earlier this month, I read Hollow City by Ransom Riggs, the sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and could hardly put it down. I’m geeked to read the next book when it comes out!)

While outside and about to leave for my book break, I spotted our garden gnome doing some work in one of the flower beds.

hermionish.snail1aThe gnome introduced me to a few friends:

hermionish.snail1 hermionish.snail2 hermionish.snail3Last night, before leaving, I checked out Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. I read some before bed last night and really got into it.    

It was a gnomtastic day.

Giveaway Winner


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And the randomly chosen winner via the Rafflecopter app is…

Sarah Y!

Her response:
“it’s a tie between the shire (the hobbit) and the weird land from “the phantom tollbooth.” i remember loving both books as a child.”

Sarah will receive 1 digital caricature by Eddie Renner – compliments of me.

Thank you to everyone who participated. You’re awesome and really made the past week special! I got a kick out of reading about your favorite places – many of which you described with great detail. I added the books in which I haven’t yet read to my TBR pile and hope to travel there soon.

And a big thank you to everyone who reads this blog as well to those who have encouraged me to keep writing.

Thank you!

A Hermionish Giveaway


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After four years, nearly 600 posts, and graduation from library school, Hermionish is still going!

A caricature sketch of me by Eddie Renner!

A caricature sketch of me by Eddie Renner!

On June 15, 2010, during my very first semester, I started this blog for the purpose of immersing myself in the Web 2.0 technologies cited in LIS 6010 and as a way of sharing my thoughts as well as experiences in library school. As a result of this blog, I’ve toured some beautiful and innovative libraries plus met some pretty fabulous people along the way — several of which have become dear friends of mine.

I’d like to celebrate this milestone by having a giveaway! It kicks off on Friday, June 13 @ 12:00 a.m. and runs through Friday, June 20 @ 11:59 p.m.

What I’m giving away:
A custom, digital caricature by Eddie Renner – the perfect profile picture for your social media accounts. (According to FTC rules, I need to disclose that I did not receive the prize for free and I was not paid for writing my blog post or for putting on this giveaway. In fact, I am personally paying for the digital caricature drawn by Eddie Renner at

For further information and to register for the giveaway, please visit my Rafflecopter page:   Hermionish Giveaway: Digital Caricature

Thank you for reading and good luck!

Better Romance Novel Titles


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Friend and Shades of Tangerine blogger, Heather, noticed a recent hashtag trend on Twitter: #betterromancenoveltitles

Being awesome…and an artist, her response was to create a book cover – a spoof of The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. Here’s her creation:

hermionish.shadesoftangerine1Brilliant! Well done, Heather!

Brace Yourselves


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I’ve been focusing on plans for this year’s science-themed summer reading program — Fizz, Boom, Read!

hermionish.fizzboomread2014This is what I feel like:

hermionish.srp2The hard (and annoying) part: vendors.

The phone has been very busy as of late with vendors calling the library trying to peddle their wares. One company tried to sell me 1,000 science-themed coloring books — said that other libraries have bought packages of that size. (I had to laugh.) Of course, I politely explained that we’d be VERY lucky to get a 100 kids participating in the summer reading program as DPL is in a small, rural community. If I bought the coloring books, they offered to send me a slushy-machine or an outdoor charcoal grill. Another vendor tried to sell me a massive amount of personalized mood pencils which totaled to the entire budget for the summer reading program.

No worries. I got this.

My thoughts:
If I can annually organize and coordinate a solemn and emotional community event, such as a candlelight vigil and Clothesline Project for survivors of domestic violence, I think I can handle planning a fun-filled event for children centered upon books and reading.


hermionish.clp Snap shots of me introducing the speakers at Vigil and a close-up of the Clothesline Project displayed on the courthouse lawn

Today, I did order some pretty nifty things which I’ll donate to the library — plastic test tubes to be filled with candy and given out at the wrap-up party, a test tube rack for display, containers of slime, glow-in-the-dark bracelets, beakers and flasks which I’ll fill with colored water and glitter…and maybe one of them will be filled with plastic bugs and worms! I can use the beakers and such for Halloween.

Stay tuned for pictures.

RLC 2014: Pontiac Lodge


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Conference badgeAs I’ve previously mentioned, the Loleta Fyan Small and Rural Libraries Conference (RLC, for short) was held on Mackinac Island, at Grand Hotel, this year. The conference convenes every other year — with the last time being in 2012.

In 2012, I attended as a MLIS-candidate aka library student. Because I was not affiliated with an organization, I registered as early as possible and made my room reservations; however, this time around, I was interviewing for my position as a library director and then brand new on the job. While attending RLC was definitely broached at my interview, it was only an interview and I much preferred to have a second conversation on the subject — at the next library board meeting.

So…with that said, I waited until nearly the deadline to register and reserve my room — something I nearly never do — and discovered that the procrastination lead to Grand Hotel being booked solid. After a few moments of panic — it’s pre-season on Mackinac Island and much of the island is still shuttered from winter — I found a couple of hotels which remain open year-round.

The Pontiac Lodge looked to be the closest to Grand Hotel which would allow me to walk versus taking a taxi — a horse-drawn carriage — thus saving myself as well as my library some money.

Map from Pontiac Lodge to Grand Hotel - .5 milesI booked my room and realized that my colleagues will have their luggage directly delivered to their hotel from Shepler’s Ferry. Getting my luggage to the hotel from the dock wouldn’t be an issue because they are practically right across the street from each other; however, considering that the conference starts at 12:00p on Wednesday and check-in isn’t until 3:00p…

What was I supposed to do with my luggage?

I contacted the Pontiac Lodge and they were more than happy to hold my luggage until check-in…and hold it on Friday, after check-out, until the conference wrapped up and I was making my way to the ferry for departure.


Now what about all of the ice I kept hearing about?

The ferry schedule was suspended due to issues with ice. I knew that when operations began again, the ferry would be swamped with people which prompted me to reserve my room from a day earlier than the conference, in hopes of beating the rush plus it would eliminate the need for the hotel to hold my luggage.


My room was über comfortable, not mention very pretty… Highly recommend.

View of the nautical-themed room done in blueEach morning, I left a bit early for the walk up to Grand Hotel for the purpose of taking pictures of my morning “commute”…

View of Hoban Street and conference attendees walking towards Grand Hotel

Wednesday’s commute! I walked to Grand Hotel with folks who just got off the morning ferry.

Iron gate hermionish.rlc2014.commute7Little Stone Churchhermionish.rlc2014.commute3hermionish.rlc2014.commute4

RLC 2014: Day 3


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On the third day of the Rural Libraries Conference, I attended…

Morning keynote with Rhoda Janzen, author of Mennonite in a Little Black Dress and English + Creative Writing professor at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. She did a book signing afterwards and you better believe that I got two of her books signed.

ImageAfter the morning keynote, I headed to the Plinkit Users Group to learn about Enfold’s ESP — a new CMS that we might all be migrating to in the near future. The description: This is an open forum for staff members from Plinkit and non-Plinkit libraries who want to learn more about ESP Library. The Plinkit program is currently transitioning to ESP Library from Enfold Systems. Enfold President Aimee Errington will be with us to answer questions about the new product and provide a demonstration. All Michigan libraries are welcome to get in on the discounted pricing available through the Library of Michigan for this library-specific website template and hosting product.

Plinkit Users GroupSeeing the demonstration of ESP, it reminded me quite a bit of WordPress and what I see on the back-end of this blog. To start a WordPress website for the library would be cheaper than ESP — but I would have LOADS of support from not only from Enfold but from the other member libraries. And I wouldn’t have to worry about domain renewal or paying for WordPress via my credit card and then being reimbursed.

Waiting for the second session to begin…


Three SLIS alumni and the director of White Pine Library Cooperative, Bryon Sitler.


Four SLIS alumni!

The second, and final session, that I attended was Ten Legal Issues Every Director or Trustee Should Know by Anne Seurynck, Attorney, Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith, P.C.

Description: “We will explore common legal questions from library directors and trustees. This session will cover a wide variety of legal issues such a patron behavior and internet policies. We will also address complicated issues such as the open carry of weapons, pornography and sexual predators. Frequently asked library privacy questions will also be addressed.”

20140502_111800Following the second session was the closing luncheon where I sat with Erin, Matt, and Jaema. I first met Jaema when I toured her library, Addison Township Public Library, for my 30 Years and 30 Libraries project.

20140502_132627The conference concluded after lunch and we made our way to Shepler’s ferry dock.

20140502_133921Until 2016…


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