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.

Research support

For academic librarians, some form of scholarly activity, such as participation in professional associations and research, is usually expected. I engage in both activities. I am active in ALA, serving, for example, on the Reference and User Services Association's president's conference program committee, and as the listserv administrator for the Instruction Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries. I am also collaborating with a colleague at John Brown University in Arkansas on a research project. We finally sent our survey out today to some 600 library directors around the country. This mailing cost a lot of money. (We chose a mailing over e-mail and a Web-based survey for various reasons.) Luckily, he and I have institutional support to cover the cost of this research

My point is, if you looking for academic library jobs out of library school, be sure to inquire about institutional support for scholarly activities, such as research and travel, during your interviews. I know that without my professional development fund at my school, I would not be able to attend ALA conferences to network with other librarians and learn about the new resources and current issues in the profession, nor would I be able to conduct research projects without a significant cost to my pocketbook.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

. . . Unless You Live in the Twilight Zone

This Twilight Zone episode is an interesting cold war-era meditation on obsolescence.

"I am a human being!"
"You are a librarian."

Scribbling index numbers on little cards never sounded so noble. I'm not quite sure how atheism got mixed up with it, though. Found via Library Link of the Day.