A dreaded task of most librarians is removing no longer read books from the shelves. It is often a taboo subject, certainly outside librarian circles. Who gets rid of books? Certainly not the bibliophile community of school librarians! Librarians call it ‘weeding’ and the terminology is important. Just like a gardener weeds out the plants that are stifling growth, a librarian weeds out those books that are keeping the collection from thriving.
After this arduous task, decisions must be made as to what to do with the weeded books. Unfortunately, some books are too old, damaged or out-of-date to be passed on to other libraries. However, the majority have life left. At St. John’s we have been very fortunate to pass on these relevant titles to schools in Africa. These donations began with books being given to Kenyan schools associated with the Giraffe Project, an NGO also supported by our CAS students.
Ms. Wallace has registered her initiative as a fourth pillar organization (4de pijler in Dutch). This is a collective name for all these citizens’ projects for development cooperation that are undertaken worldwide from Flanders. The initiative is also registered with the government as an NGO or VZW in Dutch through the Nederlandtalige Rechtbank van Koophandel Brussel. The initiative is fundraising with the LEEF Foundation and the next event on 6 October 2018 is a dinner with funds raised going towards the school project and book transport costs to Liberia.
While some of the books go to the Liberian Organization in Brussels, the lion’s share is transported to Liberia with the first shipment having arrived in Monrovia in December of 2016. Because weeding is a continuous process of any well-run library, this year all St. John’s libraries have boxed our suitable weeded books for their eventual ocean journey to Liberia. Ms. Wallace is doing a brilliant job in providing a much-needed resource to her fellow Liberians. We, in first-world countries can easily forget how precious a book can be in the hands of a child, adolescent or adult who owns no books and has no library from which to borrow.
We offer congratulations to Ms. Wallace and her colleagues for their initiative. It also gives us, the SJIS librarians, a value-added sense of accomplishment to know our weeded books are finding a new home where they can continue to be appreciated and read.
If you have a charity (non-profit) who could benefit from our weeding, please contact one of the St. John’s librarians. It is important to remember that we only provide the packed boxes of books. All handling and shipping logistics and costs are the responsibility of the charity.