2,000 books removed from Newton School library, declared surplus property

  • Faculty member Jackie Swist sorts through books in the library at Newton School in Greenfield. More than 2,000 books have been removed from the library and declared surplus property. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

  • Faculty member Jackie Swist sorts through books in the library at Newton School in Greenfield. More than 2,000 books have been removed from the library and declared surplus property. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 4/16/2022 8:28:49 PM
Modified: 4/16/2022 8:27:31 PM

A process that began late last year to update the elementary school libraries is well underway, with the completion of the “weeding” process at Newton School.

A list of the more than 2,000 books being removed from Newton School’s library can be found at bit.ly/3OotNQz. The School Committee voted Wednesday night to declare the books as surplus property, relieving the district of holding onto the books in storage.

“We could offer them for free to another city department … or offer them as donations to the students,” said Superintendent Christine DeBarge. “Or we could recycle them or donate to another appropriate agency.”

Greenfield High School Librarian Jessica Pollock told committee members that the School Committee has a policy on decommissioning materials, which outlines the criteria to be considered. That includes: a material’s physical condition, or whether the material is dated and no longer reflects what students look like or are interested in; and whether they have inaccurate information, or racist or homophobic language.

“Those kinds of things can really make materials irrelevant for kids,” she said. “Those are some of the areas the librarians look at when evaluating materials to decide whether to keep (a book) or not.”

Pollock noted that weeding collections should be an ongoing practice in libraries. As the only certified librarian in the district for the last 12 years, Pollock has been able to keep the high school collection “up to date and active,” Assistant Superintendent Karin Patenaude said previously.

The elementary school libraries, however, have gone without a full-time librarian who would ordinarily be tasked with keeping the collections up to date, according to Patenaude. At the Discovery School at Four Corners, the role of the full-time librarian has changed to also be a part-time interventionist to help with pandemic-related learning loss, while Newton and Federal Street schools have a rotating staff member monitor the collections.

Similar to the Discovery School at Four Corners, the staff member who had previously been working in the Greenfield Middle School library is now in a classroom to offer support with skill gaps and learning loss.

Thanks to grant funding, the Greenfield School Department was able to hire Laura Luker of Greenfield, a certified library specialist, to help with the process.

While the elementary school libraries have the greatest need, Patenaude said, the middle school will also be audited.

School Committee member Glenn Johnson-Mussad asked Pollock if she could explain the process for replenishing the collection. Pollock said she begins by reviewing professional journals. She also looks at award-winning books and books listed on various best-seller lists, and consults with teachers for their requests.

The financing for replenishing is partly achieved through the budget, Pollock said. Additionally, the grant funding that allowed the district to hire Luker will help to replenish the collection.

“Part of the scope of that grant is to make sure there is adequate materials to represent the diversity of our student population, so that’s part of what they’re doing in the course of this project,” Pollock said. “Weeding is the first step in that process.”

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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