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April 15, 2017 BOOKLIST
Find more Weeding Tips
The Booklist webinar “Weeding Tips: The Basics and Beyond” was a huge success—if you haven’t viewed it yet, the recording is available online here. We extended the program to accommodate questions from the audience, which are presented here.
Our mystery titles go out many times a year and are, by and large, in good shape. But we need space. So how do I know what to weed? Similar question: How do you weed collections that continue to circulate—such as audiobooks and DVDs—so that you can make room for new acquisitions and requests?
Rebecca: It is a tough call when your patrons are using the materials and they are in good condition. If it’s a space issue and not a use condition, you might need to tighten up how long you’re willing to go between checkouts. Some smaller libraries use three years as a benchmark. It’s not unusual to go down to two—but even I will admit that’s getting harsh. Any chance you could weed a less-used area and expand the tight section?
Please discuss how the growing availability of e-books in public libraries should influence collection size?
Rebecca: That’s probably a good topic for a separate webinar! In general, it’s probably too soon to start looking at e-books as a replacement for print collections. I think it’s a great way to supplement your print collection but wouldn’t actually let it influence my print purchasing, at least for now. You still have the same issues (one item, one checkout), but there are fewer people able to utilize the material (not everyone has an e-reader or is interested in e-books) so we’re pretty far from it being a tipping point. Someday . . .
Do you know of any organizations that purchase weeded library books?
Powells, Better World Books, B-logistics, Libraries of Love, bookforward.net.
Do you know of any research on patron attitudes toward a book’s condition? We may call them ugly, but do our patrons think so, or are we projecting?
Rebecca: More often than not, it’s the patrons who have a more critical eye! Librarians tend to be a lot more forgiving of condition than patrons. You know it’s bad when a patron worries at the circ desk about taking something home because they don’t want to be blamed for the condition the book is in. How about using a more positive term, such as “worn out” or “well used” rather than “ugly”?
Do you feel the same weeding rules apply to high-school libraries?
Rebecca: Yes—if anything, school libraries need to be more stringent with weeding nonfiction and reference because of the issues with outdated material. School librarians, if room allows, could be a little looser about weeding fiction.
Would you keep a 1990 edition of Robert’s Rules of Order? Has it changed enough to make it worthwhile to purchase a newer edition?
Rebecca: Absolutely, the rules have changed. Robert’s Rules of Order has gone through two complete revisions since 1990, with the most recent in 2011. Not only that, but it’s a pretty inexpensive book to replace, so there is no reason to leave an outdated copy on the shelf.
What do you recommend the number of checkouts should be for an item before weeding? For example, I have weeded items that have a very old publication date but had one or two checkouts in 2012.
Rebecca: In a case like this (old material but recent checkouts), it depends on condition and relevancy of information. If it’s fiction, you can feel fine keeping it (or replacing if it’s tattered). If it’s nonfiction, weigh the accuracy and currency of the material.
I am new to the job and the only person weeding the collection. Any suggestions on how to divide it up so that I am not overwhelmed?
Rebecca: Continue to go section by section so that you are able to concentrate on one area at a time. Look to the Weeding Tips series on Booklist Online, and the CREW Manual, both of which go through the Dewey areas shelf by shelf. Good luck!
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