…But it was an award winner!

Winner medalSome of the more difficult weeds in libraries are award winners. The Newbery, Caldecott, National Book Award, Hugo, Bram Stoker, Nebula, etc. etc. etc. awards are wonderful choices for most public libraries – and even some school, university, and special libraries. However, they should be held to *almost* the same standard as every other item in the collection when it comes to weeding. I would likely hold on to an award winner longer than a non-award winner, but when hard choices have to be made for space reasons, you may find yourself considering an award winner for weeding.

Awards do not make books sacred. They make them more likely to be popular with patrons, but that is not always the case. It is really a win some/lose some situation. If an award-winning book was not popular with your patrons and didn’t meet your usage benchmark, by all means weed it.

You can try to generate interest with an award-winners display or create programming around the book. Hold a book club or fan event, or maybe a social media trivia contest about the book. Include it in a Battle of the Books, make bookmarks featuring the cover art, or make a read alike list including the title. There are plenty of ideas that might give the book a second chance before you ditch it. The difference between award winners and non-winners is that award winning titles might be worth this extra effort before they are weeded. The award lends the title a bit more authority, credibility, and potential for use.

In the end, though, if a book is not of interest to your patrons, let it go no matter what award it won!


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  1. I’ve been trying to read my way through the Newberry Award winners for the past few years, and WHEW. Many of those books did not age well at all. Strawberry Girl and Miss Hickory were questionable at best.

    1. I found a copy of the original Newberry Award winning book (1922) and attempted to read it. It was a history book that had strange tendencies to be on an even keel, and then go off the deep end in the next paragraph. The “illustrations” could be burned to cast the next Caldecott Award with no loss.

  2. I once joined a bookclub at a local indie bookstore that was made up of a very diverse group of people. We usually read awarded books and some were good reads, none stood out as spectacular, but one ( I don’t remember the title) was truly awful and absolutely HATED by everyone in the group. Not one person in about 20 had anything good to say about this book instead going on about what a complete waste of time it was. It had some award and we all wondered what the judges were thinking and what rules applied in that selection.
    What I remember of it involved a unlikable young woman looking for the mother who put her up for adoption. She found her mother on a small island raising a son, the girl moves to the island, sleeps with her brother( she knew) gets him to kill the mother. The whole time this was going on, the is telling stories that relate to nothing in the book, one story was about a mother killing her children by not letting them drink water until out of desperation they die from drinking salted bathwater.

  3. It’s because we’re surrounded by oversensitive SJWs who think being “right” is more important than being happy, which is why nearly everyone is unhappier than ever.

    1. Lora, if the SJW’s trigger you, they win. Maybe not everything is the fault of the ‘libs’. And maybe your opinion either doesn’t matter or is inappropriate on a blog post about the suitability of award winning books in library collections.

  4. One of our librarians was afraid to weed any award winners – even if damaged – because apparently someone from HQ would send “WHY DID YOU WEED THIS?!” e-mails. New librarian came in and said, “I don’t care, Strawberry Girl is old and damaged. Out it goes.” I was very happy. Award winner or not we don’t need books with obvious liquid damage.

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