The Final Mystery: Weeding Our Libraries

Cindy: Another Booklist #MysteryMonth is in the books, and we hope you enjoyed it. We have one final mystery for you: How are these books still in my middle school collection?

The Future Ready Librarians Facebook group is full of weeding “gems” this time of year, especially from new librarians who have inherited collections from librarians who never wanted to weed a book that might have even one sentence of useful information. I have no such compunction, especially with informational books. In my defense, I’m in charge of two large middle schools, with 1700 students and collections totaling 43,000 titles, and a 1:1 Chromebook rollout that we help run. So, weeding has been spotty the past few years. Still.


The Young Scientist’s Guide to Successful Science Projects, by Sandra Markle

We love Markle’s work. If you search this site, you’ll find several posts we’ve written about her books including Toad Weather (2015) and The Search for Olinguito (2017). She and her publisher get points here for featuring a girl on the cover of this 1990 science projects title, but my middle-school students haven’t checked it out since 2000, despite the solid advice inside. Could it be the Scotty dog applique sweater or the hair ribbons? Another mystery: what is this girl up to now? Our guess is that she’s either a writer on The Big Bang Theory, or she’s working for NASA.



Female Fitness Stars of TV and the Movies, by Patricia Costello

Sorry, Mitchell Lane Publishers, you get zero kudos for this cover that prominently features three men on the cover of a book about female fitness stars. I would guess that only a few remaining working librarians could even identify Jack LaLanne, who I saw on TV as a child in the 60s. Featured in the text are Cher, Goldie Hawn, Lucy Lawless, and Demi Moore. Hmmm. How about Jane Fonda or Suzanne Somers? Turns out Somers was in another volume in the “Legends of Health & Fitness” series: Female Stars of Nutrition and Weight Control. Oprah Winfrey is in that volume, too. Well, Oprah and I have both worked on weight control more times than many other women, so. . . I guess that counts. Nadia Comaneci is in that volume too—perhaps having coach Bela Karolyi repeatedly tell you that you’re fat counts as being a star of weight control? The publisher does get credit for including women in Fitness Stars of the Martial Arts (Cynthia Rothrock) and Boxing (Zulfia Koutdussova), but this book, that never circulated even once, needs to go. Upon further exploration, it appears that the same cover may have appeared on each book in the series. I hadn’t weeded my 920 collective biography section in that library since returning to it almost a decade ago, but let’s just say it has thinned down in the last month even more than the women in the Weight Control volume ever have. 😉

About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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