They're older than you think!

Like many children’s librarians, I’ve been spending August weeding my collections. And as so often has been the case, I am scandalized to find some of the books I’ve left in the collection for way too long.

First, I finished weeding the VHS feature film collection, where the main concern was whether the item was earning its place on the shiny new shelving, so circulation was the main thing to look at. There were some painful moments (farewell again, Mister Rogers) but overall, it was pretty easy. Next up, the 600s–last summer I did the invention/health/machines. This year I am picking up with the cars and working my way through space travel, pets, cooking, and building. The space books were, shall we say, a blast from the past.

In the 629s, I was having a great time pulling out old, battered books that were clearly out of date. Less happy was the feeling as I learned to pick up on some important cues that forced me to start examining the quite new-looking books more carefully. A lot of them turned out to be older than I thought! A first hint, as I pulled a nice crisp book off the shelf, was when I noticed that although we are now using barcode numbers in the 9 million range, some of the books had numbers like 655,971. Uh-oh! A second cue might be, hmmm, didn’t that author die years and years ago? Or, Gosh, when DID that publisher go out of business?

I realized that the main pitfall for me is that I am a barcode in the 655,000 range instead of the 9 million range. I look at a date like 1993 and I think that seems very recent, though in fact for many of our patrons it was literally a lifetime ago. Or I might look at a book and think, Oh, yes, I remember buying that so it CAN’T be too old….though I bought it back at the Chicago Public Library 20 years ago. I have been made properly aware of my age this week.

But on the bright side, the 600s are looking great!

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