These have been living in the reference collection at my library, gathering dust since who knows when. I’ve worked there for 12 years and they were already dusty then.
I finally bit the bullet (because pandemic library closure = time for collection projects like this) and weeded the whole collection. I didn’t really need the space for anything else, but the layer of dust confirmed that they hadn’t been touched by human hands in a looooong time.
It felt exhilarating! It felt freeing! It felt…wrong. What should I do with them? Surely some library, somewhere, could use them – even if just filling in missing issues in their own archive of American Heritage magazines. It’s a quality publication. It has value. It should be preserved!
Just not at my public library in our general interest/popular materials collection.
Rather than going straight to the recycle bin with it, I poked around to see what kind of holdings were listed in WorldCat. I thought maybe if I could identify a big missing chunk somewhere, I’d offer it up to fill in their collection. I also thought it would give me an idea of what libraries still have collections like this.
If I’ve learned one thing from 12 years with awful library books (!!) it’s that holdings at a library does not equal need. Lots of libraries have lots of stuff on their shelves that they don’t even want. They’re just too understaffed/sentimental/lazy to actually get rid of stuff. So, just because a library is listed in WorldCat as owning a complete set of American Heritage magazines does not mean it’s a good choice for their collection, or that they have any intent of keeping it, or that they even know they have it.
I didn’t find any obvious places to send it.
Just for my own peace of mind, I also checked Better World Books to see if they’d take any of it. I didn’t expect them to. And they didn’t.
I asked the local historical archive – again, just to be sure they couldn’t use it – and they were not interested.
I emailed a nearby archive collection that did not list holdings of this collection, but which collects all kinds of Americana. I got no response.
So, I put the individual issues in the recycle bin. The bound issues got boxed up for city pickup. (THANK YOU to our city for helping us discard hardcovers appropriately!)
The moral of the story is that Mary and I love a clean collection. We love to weed. We also appreciate complete collections like this that were curated over decades and are not straight-to-the-bin items. Everything deserves due diligence. Don’t weed too casually, but be realistic about what’s truly useful in your library. Also, be realistic about where it ultimately belongs. If that’s the recycle bin, so be it. At least you tried.