Hi there! Good question. Libraries have all kinds of policies and criteria on making decisions surrounding weeding, and what they do with books that have been discarded. Sometimes the items in a book sale were donated by a member of the community, but the library already had plenty of copies. Other times the book sale items could be discards from the library collection. I feel like that’s usually the main reason for why books end up in a book sale. The basic criteria for weeding books at a library where I recently worked was:
- What is the condition of the book?
- How often has it circulated?
- Does the content (if non-fiction) present inaccurate or out-of-date information?
- Is the content freely available and accessible online from an authoritative source?
- Does it contain or represent historical, cultural, organizational, or other significance?
- Is the book rare, or is it commonly found in other local libraries?
I used to see all books as precious, but I no longer do. I love weeding, and there have been times when I’ve even thrown a book in the recycling bin. That doesn’t give me pleasure, but it also doesn’t bother me whatsoever. If a book is mouldy, in rough shape, or just plain garbage, I will gladly toss it.
Consider this example: Books on caring for your lawn, plants, or trees in your yard, etc from the 1980s, 1990s (and earlier years). Those books will likely contain outdated information about pesticides, and how to treat certain plant diseases, or exterminate pests. Where I live, pesticides and other chemical solutions are now illegal, and can’t be used. Books in a library that endorse pesticide use should probably be removed from the collection (or at least from the circulating stacks), since the information is outdated, and potentially harmful. So although they should be removed from the collection, they also shouldn’t be added to a book sale for the same reasons they were weeded. I’d probably throw them out.