Saturday, February 10, 2007

Weeding, part 2

I wrote last year about my library's development of a comprehensive weeding plan. Ultimately, it was decided that a different approach would be taken. Specifically, instead of removing a certain percentage of books with little recent use, a complete title-by-title evaluation of our collection will occur. [Each plan has its advantages and disadvantages. I will leave that as an exercise to the reader.] As such, the librarians at my institution will commence an 8-year collection evaluation plan on May 1st. My colleagues like working together, so we will be working in teams of two librarians, with each team evaluating 5230 books a year (approximately 201 shelves averaging 26 books each). For my particular assignment my partner and I will evaluate the books on Asian history next year (books with call numbers DS63.1 .D5313 1984 to DS8818 .W55).

This semester we are piloting this plan using our oversize collection. So far, the pilot is going well. Of course, we are running into all sorts of issues that are generating a lot of discussion among the librarians. For example, are we completely abandoning cassette tapes and slides? What do we do with books containing beautiful full color plates of birds, but were last checked out 30 years ago? What do we do with resources held by no other libraries in the WorldCat catalog, even though no one has ever borrowed them?

My partner and I are finding that we can comfortably do about 7 shelves a week. We'll see what happens when we begin the official project in May. Obviously, evaluating a total of 26,150 books and other resources per year is a huge time commitment for my colleagues. We're all wondering if it is a reasonable target, and hope that it is. We also hope we won't overwhelm our technical services staff, who has to remove withdrawals from our catalog and black out the books' barcodes and ownership information. I'll keep you all informed as our collection evaluation project proceeds.

3 comments:

laura said...

Well, my coworker and I are going through our 26,000 collection piece by piece--and we have to do the barcode removal and so forth ourselves--but then, we're not trying to do it all in one year, either.

Barbara said...

Weeding can actually be very satisfying when you get in the rhythm. But it's harder than adding books because you aren't guided by fresh reviews and you don't get much help from your faculty. But some of the big studies of student behavior in libraries highlights the fact that they see bookstores having one advantage (apart from better coffee) than libraries: newer books. We often have new books, but they can get hidden among those that are often too dated to be really useful.

I'm inspired by you both! I must go pull some weeds ....

Anonymous said...

Weeding involves tough decisions, but my mantra was always: "This ain't the National Archives."