Babies & Books

My husband and I welcomed our daughter Morgan into the world on April 24. I, thankfully, had a short labor; my water broke at 11:15am, and she was born at 7:57pm. She weighed six pounds and 1 ounce. She’ll be three months old on Saturday, and she has changed and grown so much in that time.

Baby wearing a yellow romper and blue headband

Now that I’m a mama, I’m starting to get back into children’s books. Before I became an academic librarian, I worked as a bilingual library assistant in the children’s department at my local public library for a couple of years. I mostly planned and performed the Spanish and bilingual preschool story times, and I’m excited to use those skills again.

I made Morgan a Goodreads account to keep track of the children’s books we own / those we read to her. I was really interested in using The StoryGraph to break free of Amazon (you can easily move Goodreads data over to The StoryGraph), but when the first book I went to add wasn’t yet part of their database, I just didn’t have it in me to add the extra details. I know it takes people doing this work to get more established, but I’m just not in that mindset right now. If you would like to keep tabs on what we’re reading, you can friend Morgan here.

I’m also having Morgan participate in 1000 Books Before Kindergarten through our local public library. Many public libraries around the country participate in this program. Our library uses Beanstack to track the books for 1000 Books Before Kindergarten and the summer reading programs for kids and adults. Speaking of summer reading programs, I need to sign up myself because I’ve been reading a lot more, mostly thanks to the library’s Hoopla and cloudLibrary apps. I can listen to an audiobook or read a few eBook pages while tending to the baby. For those who don’t know, my anxiety makes reading books for pleasure a challenge. I’ll try to share what books I read on a monthly basis on the site, but I also have a Goodreads account, which you can find here.

Since the full-time librarians at Merced College have 10-month contracts, I’ve been able to be with Morgan all summer long. My colleagues and I go back to work in person in a few weeks, and while I’m dreading leaving her behind, it looks as though each full-time librarian will be able to work remotely one day a week. Just knowing I will be able to spend time with her during my lunch hour one day a week makes me feel a lot better. (This will also help cut down on my commute as I have to drive two hours round trip.) Despite the pandemic not being over, I’ve had the loveliest summer taking care of the baby and reading books.

Book Management: Weeding

Libraries sometimes get a lot of negative beef when it comes to getting rid of books. This isn’t done haphazardly. It’s part of our jobs to make room for newer materials and changing tastes based on demographics. In the case of a small community college campus, some years, it seems like all the writing courses are focused on food politics. Other semesters, the hot topic is social media, terrorism, gangs, etc. Materials also become out of date. Every time I get a new copy of one of those Opposing Viewpoints books, I send back the oldest version to the main library to be discarded.

Libraries don’t have  infinite room. Just like a closet, you need to clean out libraries to make room for classics, items that actually get used, items that are up to date, and new items. In libraries, we call this weeding. (The featured image on top includes a photo of books that were on our shelves that had seen better days.)

Collection management, I have learned, is not my favorite part of my job as a campus librarian. It’s a lot of work, and I don’t really have the right training to run reports on our integrated library system (ILS) to actually check when items were last checked out; I key in every book individually without a scanner (I need to ask the campus dean if we can buy  one) to find out those statistics.

This year, to help me in the weeding process, I created weeding slips.

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They are based on the slips used by librarians at California State University Stanislaus, my undergraduate alma mater. (In addition to my full-time job, I also work at CSU Stanislaus one or two Sundays a month during the academic year.) The slips come in handy because I can fill out all the necessary criteria I need in order to send books to the main library for possible deselection. The librarians at the main library take a look at the notes on the slips, and the collection development officer, the library director (not my boss), makes the final decision. These is also a section on the slip where I indicate whether or not the main library has a copy of what I am sending, which also helps their weeding process. When they weed books, they also check to see if our campus has a copy. It’s been an effective system thus far.

Part of the weeding process also includes inviting faculty in the specific discipline to look over the items for potential weeding. I don’t get a lot traction on that front, so I do a two-week call. If no one comes, I send them on to the main library.

I weeded certain areas this fall, but the true masterpiece was the fiction section. Here is the before and after. I forgot to take a photo of the fiction section before I started weeding, but the photo on top is the biography section, which looks very similar to what fiction looked like before the weeding process. Now imagine both sides of the bookcase looking like the bottom photo. We now have breathing room!

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With the new empty space, my plan is to put just a few books face-out on the shelves, like in bookstores. I do a lot of displays along the outer edge of the library, on our lower reference shelves, and it does encourage some circulation, but I like the idea of displaying books directly on the circulating shelves. I have students who tell me they like to browse when I notice them at the shelves and check to see if the students need help finding something. Because of the browsing behavior, I plan to make some signs in our signature lemon yellow to advertise putting items on hold from the other campus. I also want to advertise the eBook app available through the county library system, as well as let students know that they can put items on hold from across the county library system to pick up at the local library (a lot of them are surprised when I tell them they have access to way more than what is physically available at the local library). I did a hug sign re-haul last year, but I want to experiment with putting a few signs face-out on the shelves.

I also plan to tackle the biography and 900s (geography and history) sections in the spring semester.