Many of you may have now watched the series, read the book or manga of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Both the book and manga are in my selection areas at my public library job. . .I have read them, but then I watched the Netflix series. I WANT to love it. If you saw my house, I NEED to love it . . .but it gives me anxiety. Pile all my clothes on my bed!? Yikes. I have a serious cardigan and dress and library related t-shirt collection.
Thinking about this however, I realized that over the years I have embraced the life-changing art of weeding. While my house is not in the best shape (I work two jobs, have 2 kids and 4 dogs) my library is different. Clearing shelves to look neat, clean and orderly is transforming for the library space, and my sanity at work. At my last middle school we completely transformed the library and genre-fied. Yes. It was AMAZING. My circulation stats increased by 175%. I did weed over 3,000 books from when I started in the process.
So you might be wondering how you can apply Kondo’s style magic to the library? Well, if you haven’t seen the series, she has people go through each item in their giant pile of stuff by hand. They carefully pick up the item and decide if it brings them joy right now. If it does it stays, if it doesn’t they say ‘thank you’ to the item and place it in a pile. Sounds like weeding, right?
Many of our texts in the library do not currently bring our school joy. I am sure at one time they did, and that is why we say ‘thank you.’ I have had to weed some of my personal favorites, or purchases I clearly remember which is tough. The good ones I can usually get into the hands of my kids through book talking. Often, I will make the judgement if the book hasn’t circ-ed that it might be the condition. I love when my favorite authors re-release update covers of their books. Have you seen the new Lurlene McDaniels covers? Kids will eat that stuff up over John Green when they see fresh copies.
Many times books pre-date my service to the building so it is really not that difficult for me to part with texts. Sometimes teachers that have been in the building for a while. I am getting better at this awkward encounter of “Why are you throwing away books?” Teachers say this, and they haven’t even used them in years. I usually use the it hasn’t been checked out in 5 years answer. But, I have been better at follow up conversations with those teachers. It goes something like, ‘I would be glad to help you find updated similar resources. We could look into print or digital for any subject that would support your curriculum.’
Then, of course, I try to donate what I can so that maybe that book will bring joy to someone else. In closing, I have one final thought on this subject. My assistants in the library are actually my secret life-changing magic. They maintain order, bring stability and can always spot where I left my coffee cup. Without them, lots of tidying up in the library would not happen.