I say No, not all books are worth keeping just by nature of being books. That may sound like blasphemy coming from a librarian, but at a certain point I think some books need to head to that great recycling bin in the sky.
On several children’s literature listservs recently, the subject came up of what reviewers do with their ARC’s (Advance Reading Copies). These are what used to be known as galleys or proofs, only now they are a lot nicer than they used to be and publishers seem to pass them out by the truckload at conferences, so they are getting in a lot more hands. The discussion started when children’s literature expert Michael Thorne blogged about a publisher getting after him for selling his ARC’s on E-bay.
I have always been a goody-two-shoes on this subject, and have faithfully tossed my ARC’s into the recycling bin on the theory that writers shouldn’t have their unfinished products being sold, complete with mistakes that will be (presumably) be cleaned up by final publication. But when I said that on ChildLit, it seemed to cause some authors a certain amount of angst to think of their work being destroyed. I still basically think I was right, though I may do a little more of handing ARC’s to particular kids with an explanation of what it is.
Someone today posted about what to do with what’s left after weeding a school library collection once the teachers and kids have taken what they want. Personally, I believe that anything that is being withdrawn for out of date material should NOT be passed along to hospitals, clinics, shelters, or anywhere else that was suggested. Don’t poor kids or sick kids deserve correct information too? Pass them all the fiction, picture books, and less circulated but basically still correct books that you want–it’s great to make that extra effort to give books a little more life for kids who need the material. But even though it makes me feel like a bad librarian, I say NOT all books are worth keeping.