Maintaining A Library Space: Weeding

Erin District High School Library / Wellington County Erin Branch

Ah yes, weeding – something I loathe whether it’s in a garden, my personal library, or my school resources. I’ve always been a paper hoarder: I still have papers from my high school years, university, teacher’s college… All well organized and never used! Obviously, it’s imperative that a teacher-librarian (T-L) weed the library resources and physical materials in a library learning commons (LLC). The acronym M.U.S.T.Y. (or M.U.S.T.I.E.) provides a great criteria list for T-Ls:

At Erin DHS, we have an unique partnership to share the space with the Erin community which is great for everyone as we have nursery school students mixed with seniors mixed with our teens every day. It also means that the T-L has to collaborate with the community librarians to organize the space. It means we have an amazing collection, far beyond that of typical high schools: our T-L tends to focus more on non-fiction sources while the community library caters to their largest demographic of users  by purchasing a lot of young adult fiction. Another benefit: resources can be pulled in from every other branch in the Upper Grand DSB as well as Wellington County. Many of our students are bussed in from 3 different counties, so one of the first things I do is arrange for all of my students to get a Wellington County library card so that they can access all of the resources. The partnership works to cull the collection frequently: there’s always a table in the back corner for discards that are free to the community (often full of hardcover fiction and a few non-fiction books, some media). 


About 3 years ago, our library went through a renovation to update the space (our building turned 20 this year). This included creating some spaces that would better serve different demographics (like those with physical challenges) as well as finding some easily moveable furniture that would appeal to a variety of demographics and set-ups. The physical changes in the library were some of the final pieces in updating our library to a full library learning commons.


Given that our library has recently undergone a physical renovation to completely move to a LLC model, I’m going to instead focus on the idea of increasing innovative use by the users of the LLC.

Previously, I’ve written about how the LLC and T-L can help foster greater teacher collaboration in secondary schools. L. J. McCunn and R. Gifford’s (2015) study, “Teachers’ Reactions to Learning Commons in Secondary Schools,” focusses on suburban school LLC design and argues that “by modernizing secondary school libraries to include a wider spectrum of technology and design standards suited both for academic research and personal enjoyment, an increase in teachers’ levels of collaboration, job satisfaction, and engagement can be expected beyond student learning and scholarship” (438). Interestingly, their study found some mixed results for teachers and T-Ls when it came to collaboration. While “the learning commons model appears to be largely successful in the early stages of implementation, and numerous advantages for both teachers and students,” there were mixed results: “levels of teacher to-teacher and teacher-to-teacher librarian collaborations were found to be low, as were levels of engagement and satisfaction (457). The main reason for this, though, was identified in the limitations of the study by the researchers: time. Some of the teachers were interviewed mid-renovation, and some too soon after renovations in order to see how the new LLC set up would work. That said, teachers displayed positive attitudes about collaboration: 

“Teachers also stated that having more opportunities for staff collaboration, along with more soft seating options, had the greatest positive effect on their job. Although they did not report a significant increase in collaboration opportunities with other teachers in the new space, perhaps they believed there were enough chances for this aspect of the learning commons to have a strong influence on their job (McCunn and Gifford, 2015, 455). 

As many school libraries, like that of the Erin DHS / Erin Community Library have already made the physical shift to an LLC, the next frontier is to continue to develop the collaborative, innovative, and creative potential of the space. While this has always been the domain of T-Ls, new technologies and tools enable even greater opportunities for learning.

“The establishment of the Learning Commons as a collaborative community of learners opens the door for the reinvention of instruction and learning experiences and, consequently, for effective school improvement. In the Learning Commons we experience many types and layers of collaboration, with everyone working together to analyze and improve teaching and learning for all.”

(Koechlin and Loertscher, 2016).

The shift to new ways of co-teaching and collaboration is explored further in a rich website from a OSLA Superconference 2016 website set up by presenters Carol Koechlin and David Loertscher, Climbing to Excellence: Defining Characteristics of a Learning Commons  The Impact of Co-Teaching: a New Measure. They share the LIIITE model of creative collaboration that I think will help for secondary schools which have already moved physically to LLCs:

So, rather than focus on the physical changes in my secondary school’s LLC (it’s a pretty awesome space), here I’ve tried to explore ways that all of the users of the space can collaborate. I’m looking forward to exploring more of this throughout the library learning commons module.


Ford, Deborah B. (Sep 04, 2015). “To Weed or Not to Weed? Criteria to ensure that your nonfiction collection remains up to date,” School Library Journal. Retrieved 22 April 2020, from 

Koechlin, Carol and Loertscher, David V. (2016). “Climbing to Excellence: Defining Characteristics of a Learning Commons,”  OSLA 2016 Superconference presentation website. Retrieved 22 April 2020, from

McCunn, L.J. and R. Gifford (2015).  “Teachers’ Reactions to Learning Commons in Secondary Schools,” Journal of Library Administration, 55:435–458, DOI: 10.1080/01930826.2015.1054760.

Toronto District School Board. Weeding The School Library 

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