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Find more Weeding Tips
Now that we’ve made it through the Dewey system, we can focus on different specifics of weeding. We’ll start off with some frequently asked questions regarding library weeding. When giving weeding workshops and webinars, I hear many of the same questions pop up over and over again, so here they are, complete with answers.
What can we do with weeded copies?
Depending on what your library’s policies or restraints may be, there are a number of ways to clear out weeded copies. (Academic and school libraries in particular need to check with their administration to make sure they are following proper procedures.)
Finally, don’t be afraid to recognize that books will just have to go in the trash, like it or not. No one has a use for moldy, smelly, or damaged books.
We have a professor who is adamant about keeping all of the books in his subject area, even though they do not circulate. What do we do?
If you’ve shown him circulation reports and he won’t budge, then why not put the onus on him—if he wants them to be kept, he needs to find storage space for them in his office or his department.
In a library without subject experts, how do we identify the classic or landmark books in a subject that we would want to keep? Or should it not even be a consideration?
Consult Wilson’s Public Library Catalog. (Newest edition has been split into Public Library Core Collection: Nonfiction and Public Library Core Collection: Fiction.) It is a good starting point for non-subject specialists, but I caution librarians not to use it blindly—be sure to keep your patrons and your mission in mind when making choices for your collection.
Do you have any advice on how to weed a reference collection down to fit in a smaller space? We can’t use circulation records since we don’t keep track of reference uses.
Reference can be tricky, since there is usually not a usage report available for reference items. Are you able to shift some materials to circulating? In a library where I worked, we decided to drop our reference shelving down about 80 percent. We moved the bulk of the “good” leftovers, after weeding for condition and age, into the circulating collection. This freed up our space and then put those items either into the hands of our patrons . . . or on the next weeding report.
My staff members do not want to weed ANYTHING. Help!
Sometimes, tough love is called for. Micromanage, and make staff justify keeping items. For example, if staff insist they need several different sets of similar books, I would pull a couple of them, put them in storage or the staff workroom, and then make staff tell me when they last actually used them and for what kind of question (Could they have used something else?). Sounds silly, and as I said, it’s micromanaging, but with some people, that’s what you have to do.
Can you learn to love weeding?If you need to learn to love weeding, you can help yourself by attending conference programs and webinars, reading articles, and, really, seeing the results from your weeding. Also, weed slowly and small, weed as you go along—then it won’t seem so destructive or overwhelming.
If a book is 10 years old and hasn’t circulated recently, is giving it one last chance (on an endcap or display) justified?Absolutely—if you have the display space, and it’s not outdated information, go ahead and give it one last chance. You never know what might catch someone’s eye. If it doesn’t go out, then you know you were right to pull it.
How do you maintain fiction series or complete collections of an author’s work?If the author is still popular or still writing, it is important to keep series intact. You should decide to either keep them all or get rid of them all—don’t weed book five of a series just because that’s the one with the least circs. Local used bookstores can be a great source for old hardcovers in good condition, or look online. In addition, don’t discount mass-market paperbacks as replacements—you aren’t going to find a nice hardcover of Grafton’s A Is for Alibi, but it’s OK to just keep purchasing mass markets to replace it.
How do you justify weeding to a patron when they complain your budget is going up?
Transparency is key—a “Cart of Shame” works well to illustrate why you’re getting rid of materials. Show them the badly outdated, moldy, and damaged books.
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