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A trip to the library will make a new boy of me

weedingLast week I went over to the school across the street from my house to help school parent (and librarian and Horn Book Magazine reviewer) Pam Yosca as she worked to reopen its long-closed library. (More truthfully, “help.”) There is so much to do: the library has been closed for six years, and no new books have been bought since shortly after the turn of the century. In weeding what was there, Pam found the proverbial “someday Man will go to the Moon” book and I turned up the little love you can see in the photo.

Weeding is fun if you’re a confident sort. You always start with rules but they don’t last long; your heart is broken again and again by the great books that look like new even after decades have passed since their addition to the collection.

At this point in this library’s life, weeding is like some folklorically lengthy field of, well, weeds, that the maiden needs to clear before sunset or else. Almost everything needs to go, and there are thousands of books. Then new books must be bought. A librarian must be found.

As I screamed at Pam, and as she said to the principal, the school needs a librarian as much as it needs a library and, ideally, the librarian would come first and make the library herself. But we proceed shelf by shelf in weeding until time and staff and money come our way. Perhaps if I hold each book to see if it sparks joy then the rest will magically follow, although damned if I’m going to hug the old things before consigning them to the bin. (Pam and I have already joked about the inevitable Fox News footage of discards in the dumpster.) Pam is embarking on an ambitious campaign to make this library happen and I’m doing whatever I can to help. Horn Bookers, interested in a work party? Ice cream for everybody, of course.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. Thank you Roger!! An ice cream party is the least we can do for any HB volunteers. I’ll bring the chocolate sauce and Batch ice cream!!

  2. Tricia Harvey says:

    Sounds woefully familiar! We were in the same situation at the Blackstone Elementary School in the South End about 6 years ago. Still weeding and running on volunteer labor (no librarian), with much-appreciated but limited financial support from sources outside of BPS. Would be interested in forming a support network to share ideas, etc., if anyone else thinks that would be useful…..

  3. Jennifer Still-Schiff says:

    Nice work! Also, I liked the timely “She Loves Me” reference; hope you watched Jane Krakowski sing her trip to the library on Broadway HD, Roger!

  4. Pam Yosca says:

    Tricia, I’d love to form a support group. Contact me at pamyosca via gmail

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