Weeding the Storytime Collection: an unconventional Flannel Friday

Weeding the Storytime Collection: an unconventional Flannel Friday

Our library is undergoing a renovation this year. It means collections are moving; new carpeting; new services. Sigh. It also means that we have to move stuff. Eventually, hopefully, everything in the library will be moved. And not for the sake of moving, but because we’re getting new carpeting (yay!) and suspending things in the air just hasn’t proven cost effective.

Also, visual clutter is a problem. If you’re a children’s librarian, you probably know visual clutter. Visual pollution comes to mind. And, if you’re a children’s librarian, you don’t even see your visual pollution. It’s just Daily Work and an essential part of our job. These materials are the tools of our trade. If the service we provide (storytime) is valued, then we need our stuff. It doesn’t always make sense to use a flannel once and throw it away. The whole notion is a) silly and b) wasteful.  It’s a waste of staff time and taxpayer money. So we keep it.

In our perfect world, we’d have doors on our story collection. But, it’s impractical. Opening and closing doors to closets is just a waste of time. We chose open shelves because it’s easier. and really, worrying about how it looks is just vanity.

However. This collection just keeps growing. Every once in a while, we’ll weed some books from our shelves. A few years ago, we weeded the the flannel boards. We reworked some too. But still, the files were crammed.

Enter, today’s staff meeting. We ended early so we could get down to business. Story collections that were under review:  the flannel supply, picture book collection, flannel stories, and program files.  I think they even cleaned out Miss Mouse’s closet (which isn’t an actual closet, but bins of clothes.)  Each of the four full time librarians were given a collection and people volunteered to work with them…

The flannel supply: how small of  a piece of felt is too small to keep?  Do we need to suck every bit of flannel out of the pieces we buy or do we just keep what’s usable?  This is what they tackled.  I asked what the criteria was for keeping vs tossing.  She kept pieces that were 4 inches or bigger.  Scraps were gone.  Is it okay to keep pieces smaller than that? Absolutely, but decisions had to be made.  And we had so many itty bitty pieces.  It was good to make a stand. If these things are going into storage, make it worth the storage space.

Picture book collection:  The criteria: have you used this book in the last year? Do you know this book? If not, it was up for weeding.

Wait…I know what you’re thinking.  But, everything (except maybe the scraps) was available to go back on shelf.  Just because I didn’t know or like an item didn’t mean it was leaving forever.  Story tellers choice allowed it to go back. 

The story collection books being weeded.
The story collection books being weeded.

Program files: Once we complete a program, we fill out a form that discusses materials, program outline, and recap.  But, do we need program files from 12 years ago? Maybe.  They evaluated them and kept a few, mostly science related programs.

Flannel Boards: This was mine.  We have five vertical file drawers jammed with flannel boards. And by jammed I mean, can’t move the envelopes back and forth to see what’s in the file.  My co-worker and I took turns going through the files.  We had different techniques.  I looked at the title of each flannel board. If I didn’t know it or remember it, I took it out.  Then we went through the stack.  We had a keep pile and a withdrawal pile.

Her technique: open up the folders she wasn’t familiar with and either pulled it or put it back.

What I was looking for : Things I didn’t know. Also, stuff that had dot matrix scripts. AKA, old. Now, I’m old. There is nothing wrong with old. There were things in the filing cabinet we kept that were older than my seventeen years at the library. But, some old needs to go. Cobwebs were forming. There are some fine stories in that filing cabinet that would be great if they were just reworked. Some were saved for that very purpose. Other things up for removal: too many pieces. ugh. They get all floppy and they were once a great tool for our storytimes. But the person who made it isn’t working here anymore. And we aren’t using it. This is no time to be sentimental.

Dot Matrix Printing! Old. Beautiful work. I've never seen it before.  Up for weeding.
Dot Matrix Printing! Old. Beautiful work. I’ve never seen it before. Up for weeding.
Old. Keeping.  I use all the time as a prop story.
Old. Keeping. I use all the time as a prop story.
Gorgeous! Isn't it?  Too many pieces. No one uses it.  Up for weeding
Gorgeous! Isn’t it? Too many pieces. No one uses it. Up for weeding

I was also pretty hard on our story cards. In my opinion, the reason one turns a book into a story card is that it’s too small to share with a large group. So, scan and enlarge.  If you’re not enlarging it, just use the book.  There were story cards of books that were just photocopies.  WHA? WHY?

Together, we rocked the flannel board weeding.   This is what we weeded:

What next? Now it’s our job to look through the materials up for weeding and put them back. No questions asked.

You should see the back room; it looks like a tornado hit it.  Visual destruction…but of a good kind. We’ll straighten up and have a more room for new things that are worth keeping.  That’s the key, I think.  Making a flannel that is perfect a specific program doesn’t mean it needs to be part of the permanent collection. My manager would say that the time spent working on something is in direct proportion to how important it is.  If you’re just using something once, don’t spend a week making it….

I’m happy to report that the five vertical files on flannels are roomy and delightful. We could probably move things to three files drawers.  Room for growth? (shhh)

Also, all the flannels found in the flannelography on this blog were saved.

Take away: You work in libraries, you know the value of weeding.  Weeding your story collection is just as valuable an exercise as weeding your circulating collection. Try it, you’ll like it

This is a Flannel Friday post:

  • Christine from Flat Board Ideas is the host.
  • If you want to learn more about Flannel Friday, visit the blog!

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One Reply to “Weeding the Storytime Collection: an unconventional Flannel Friday”

  1. Good work! What did you do with all of the materials you weeded?

    well, they’re still being reviewed, so I’m not sure how many will be weeded. We may donate some to local preschools, depending on condition. I thought about a blog giveaway, but they aren’t mine to do so. We’ll see. -SH

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