Time for flowers and bunnies.
Time for gardening.
Time for my library’s book sale.
I wait in line, ready to dive into the piles, hoping to find some treasure.
I head directly to the picture book section.
I am bouncing with glee at my good fortune!
My pile is sincerely impressive.
The titles are awesome.
Authors I know and love.
Artists I admire.
Books I’ve coveted, in pristine condition, published just last year.
I look at the publication dates again.
2014. 2014. 2014.
My joy turns to concern.
How is this possible?
These are not books donated by patrons from their home libraries.
These are beautifully bound library books.
Why is the library selling books that were published a little over a year ago?
I am no longer quite as jubilant.
As an author, alarm bells are ringing in my head.
How can the shelf life of a book be shorter than its journey to publication?
This is not a bookstore.
That I could understand.
The turnover at a bookstore is mind-boggling.
Every week new books appear face-out on the shelves and last week’s titles are squeezed, spine-out, among the hundreds of other new, but not quite-as-new, titles.
But a library is different, right?
A library is the place where books go to LIVE!
Where they can safely wait for just the right hands and eyes and hearts to find them.
How can a child discover these books if they are no longer on the shelf?
In dismay, I check online to see the availability of many of these books.
These titles are still available and plentiful. 12 copies of some, 11 of others.
Just not in my branch.
I email my librarian.
My awesome children’s librarian who gets back to me right away.
It seems that a weeding list is generated for the librarian of each branch based on calculated circulation statistics and last recorded date of checkout. Depending on the constraints of each particular library, books that haven’t circulated in two or four or five years may be weeded out. Sometimes they are purged simply because they are doubles.
It all makes sense.
Limited shelf space.
Oodles of new titles.
Availability in other branches.
I look around my library. It is beautiful, but not enormous.
With each new crop of books being published, weeding must be done.
It is just part of the process.
It is essential to a healthy, growing garden.
Even if that garden is my own local library.
So although the joy at my new pile of books is diminished a little, I am resolved to treat these books well, like the bounty that they are. I will respect them, love them and share them with my Kindergarten and first grade reading buddies. Although they are no longer blossoming in my library’s garden, they are definitely beautiful, bright, wonderful additions to mine.
Beth Ferry is the author of the New York Times Bestselling picture book Stick and Stone, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.. She is also the author of Land Shark (Chronicle Books).
Pirate’s Perfect Pet will set sail in the Fall of 2016.
Swashby and the Sea, will be released in 2017. Beth writes and lives by the beach in New Jersey with her family and two lazy land sharks. You can learn more at www.bethferry.com.