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06-15: Literature


Weeding literature shelves can be difficult because their contents are so deeply wound up in many patrons' as well as staff's ideas of what a library is: a repository of the literary canon, where patrons are guaranteed on-demand exposure to “classics” and prestigious literary prize winners.

However: Our shelves have limited 'real estate', the “literary canon” is an ever-shifting concept, and literary tastes do evolve over time.  How many high schools today are assigning the once ubiquitous Silas Marner?  Students are much more likely to read a “newer classic” like Chinua Achibe's Things Fall Apart.

Check for newer, contemporary translations of literature and poetry in translation. Also, updated critical editions which include new introductions and annotations are worth seeking out, as publishers try to embellish classics that have entered the public domain.  Media tie-ins, like new releases of television and movies based on books, spark new interest and updated new editions.

Literary criticism has evolved too, and many of the most comprehensive and up-to-date resources are online, such as Gale Literature Resource Center, and Ebsco's Literary Reference Center. Also in the Digital Realmfree e-book sites like Google Books and Project Guttenberg offer titles we no longer stock because of low demand.  

The C.R.E.W. (Continuous Review, Evaluation, and Weeding) method for Dewey 800 Literature specifies:

 X/3/MUSTIE = “Copyright is not relevant for literature but older editions that are MUSTIE rarely circulate. Discard older editions of classics that have unappealing covers and yellowing pages, replacing with newer copies or paperback editions. Don't keep classics just because they are classics! Check with local schools and community colleges for assignments or reading lists and check discards against these lists. Discard collections of poetry and short stories that are not being used. Discard books of wit and humor that are not circulating. Watch for collections that feature gender or nationality bias and outdated interests and sensitivities.”

The C.R.E.W. method for Fiction is:

X/2/MUSTIE = “For most public libraries, circulation is the primary factor for weeding fiction. Discard works no longer in demand, especially second and third copies of past bestsellers. Retain works that are in demand and/or of high literary merit, but replace worn copies with new editions. Discard lesser works by classic authors if they are not circulating. Consider discarding all titles in a series if you are not able or willing to replace missing titles, especially if the books do not stand alone."


Suggestions for Weeding


Suggestions for Purchase

  • Follies of God: Tennessee Williams and the women of the fog by James Grissom, c2015 (9780307265692)
  • The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, a new verse translation by James Clive, c2013 (9780871404480)
  • The Iliad by Homer, translated by Barry B. Powell, c2014 (9780199326105)
  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, translated by Richard Howard, c2015 (9780544671645)
    Media tie-in, a new motion picture to be released at the Cannes Film Festival.
  • Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert, translated by Lydia Davis, c2015 (9780143129110)
    Media tie-in, a new motion picture to be released in June.
  • The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Stephen Mitchell, c2013 (9781451674170)
  • So We Read On: how the Great Gatsby came to be and why it endures by Maureen Corrigan, c2014 (9780316230070)
  • There Is Simply Too Much to Think About: collected nonfiction by Saul Bellow, c2015 (9780670016693)



For more free Internet literature resources see the BCCLS' Web Subject Guides

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