Peel school board faces calls for transparency on library ‘weeding’ process in Mississauga and Brampton schools


Published September 14, 2023 at 2:58 pm

Students and a national library association say the Peel District School Board (PDSB), which oversees schools in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon, needs to be more transparent about the so-called “weeding” of its libraries amid concerns some books are being removed from collections solely because they were published before 2008.

Ontario’s education minister has asked the PDSB to put an immediate stop on its weeding process – which assesses and removes older books – saying it was “illogical” to remove books from years past that educate students on history, antisemitism, or are celebrated classics.

The board has said that older books, regardless of publication date, are allowed in schools if they are “accurate, relevant to the student population, inclusive, not harmful, and support the current curriculum.”

But students and an advocacy group made up of members of the school community say some texts are being removed just for being more than 15 years old and are calling on the board to provide a clear explanation.

Saisha Luciani, a 15-year-old student in Mississauga, says she was upset when she went to her school library at the start of the new school year and learned her favourite books, such as the Harry Potter series, The Hunger Games and even non-fiction books about her East Indian heritage had been removed.

Reina Takata, a Grade 10 student, says her school librarian had recently informed students that books published before 2008 were no longer available since the board implemented its new weeding guidelines earlier this year.

Both students say they would like to see the board clearly communicate with students to explain its weeding plan and provide details on whether books that may have been removed in error will be replaced.

Anita Brooks Kirkland, the chair of the Canadian School Libraries Association, says the process of “weeding” library collections has long been carried out to ensure collections are up-to-date and represent the student population.

But she says the Peel board needs to be transparent with the school community about how the process is being carried out.

The board did not respond to questions about the calls for transparency Thursday.

Rashmi Swarup, the board’s executive director, has said teacher librarians have not been given the direction to remove all books with a publication date older than 2008, nor has the board received provincial direction to remove particular books from collections.

She said the Peel board follows library weeding guidelines set by the Canadian School Libraries Association and will be reviewing its training process to ensure consistency across schools.

Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press

insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising