100 Scope Notes
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Endangered Series #2: The Hardy Boys

Popularity comes, popularity goes. As librarians we’re always balancing between what will circulate like crazy and what we need to have in the collection. And we’re not the Library of Congress – we can’t (and shouldn’t) keep everything.

An endangered series is one that appears to be waning in terms of popularity. But popularity isn’t everything. Should it stay, or should it go? Or think of it this way – if you were starting a library today, would this series make the cut? Let’s discuss.


The Hardy Boys (original series) by Franklin W. Dixon

The Case for Keeping:

Don’t scoff – I’m willing to bet there are more libraries than you think with this original series on the shelves. The Hardy Boys are an American classic, playing a huge role in the reading lives of countless kids.

The Case for Not:

They’re older than father time, with covers that are laughably dated. They can be a hard sell.


Over the years, the Hardy Boys may have more incarnations than any other series. Aladdin (Simon & Schuster) has two variations…

Hardy Boys Adventures is a modern take on the mystery series.

The Hardy Boys: Secret Files bring the boys to younger readers.

Papercutz has a batch of graphic novels with brand new stories.

My Verdict:

We kept hanging on due to the fact that students were checking them out during a genre study on mysteries. But at the end of last year, we weeded the series to make room for newer titles.

What say you?


Endangered Series (#1) The Boxcar Children

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. I tried a few of the new Hardy Boys Adventures and was not impressed (yes, I collect old children’s genre fiction. Why don’t they republished Rick Brant or Brains Benton I ask?). I keep the original blue titles (not a complete set, but about 15) and the couple new titles I bought. I also have some of the Papercutz gns, but they are not in good condition – they must have used a different binder and they keep falling apart. The gns circ the most, followed by the new adventures, last the classics. They circulate but not a ton. You know what’s crazy popular though? Nancy Drew. ALL Nancy Drew. Kids can’t get enough of them. (incidentally, you do realize the blue “classic” Hardy Boys are very different than the originals? Half the length and with a lot of updating and changes. Mostly for the better, since they took out a lot of the outdated language, stereotypes, and extraneous verbiage)

  2. Again, as with Boxcar, we cannot keep the Hardy Boys on our shelves.Of the 130 we own in our branch, 93 are currently checked out. Its popularity is due to a very conservative nature of a portion of our population who will only let their children read “clean” books, and often in their mind, old means clean.

    • Travis Jonker says

      It’s interesting how this sort of thing swings from place to place. The only time our old Hardy Boys went out was during the mystery genre study. More and more it seemed like that wasn’t a good enough reason to keep them around when we have plenty of other mysteries available.

  3. Benji Martin says

    It’s funny. I have tons of girls reading Nancy Drew, but no boys reading Hardy Boys.

  4. Oh man, these circulate REALLY well at my (public) library – I regularly have questions about the series order, both the newer and older ones. I discarded some really worn copies, but I’m holding onto any of the older titles in good condition. I’m guessing it’s often the parents getting a kid into the series, but they keep coming back for more.

    • Travis Jonker says

      This is interesting to hear. At some point we might check out the more modern Hardy Boys incarnations

  5. I wonder if the difference between school and public library is a factor, too. Our Hardy Boys still get regular circulation (though not as much as the Nancy Drews), but most often it’s at a parent’s suggestion– an “I loved these when I was your age!” thing. Once the kids are hooked, they’re hooked, but I’m not sure how many of them would have picked it up on their own.

  6. That is interesting, our Nancy Drew books get pretty good circulation, but we always have plenty on the shelf, but Hardy Boys I only have 4 on the shelf right now.

  7. It’s weird that they have reboots of the series, but not just updated covers? I liked the new Trixie Belden covers that came out several years back.

  8. As Erin and Jess said, those old Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and Boxcar Children are always being checked out at my library. The newer and updated ones–checked out steadily but not as much as these old ones. Couldn’t tell you why but I bet it’s because of the parents.

  9. The graphic novel version would definitely be popular in my library!