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Find more Weeding Tips
In this installment of Weeding Tips, let’s start at the beginning of the collection (with apologies to LC collections!). I find that the 000s tend to be difficult to weed, mainly due to the wildly varying nature of the books. On the one hand, this section contains computer books, which should turn over fairly rapidly. But it also contains encyclopedias—if you still have them, that is—and general trivia-type books. Weeding the 100s should be a fairly easy task, since the material holds up well, and there isn’t a great deal of new or superseded information constantly being published on philosophy. Religion is also not a difficult section, as long as you know what your community needs and keep a good mix of titles.
004 (Computers) In most cases, out-of-date titles should not be retained, even if nothing else is available on that subject in the collection. Here’s where it gets tricky for most librarians. You want to keep all of those Word 2003 books on the shelf, don’t you? You just know that you still have patrons who use that program, even though it’s 10 years out of date and has been superseded by two updates. (Hey, I’m not one to judge—Office 2003 remains my choice on my home computers and I will continue to keep it until I’ve used up the licenses I own!) But how likely is it that your patrons will need books on the program? After all, if they still have the program, they have likely had it for many years, and, it’s certainly not difficult to locate user guides and tips online. It’s reasonable to keep books on software programs one release back but no further. If you must keep books on outdated computer programs, winnow it down to one copy and one title per program. Trust me.
Bibliographies and readers’-advisory tools are fine to keep if they are in good condition and were published within the last 10 years.
020 (Library Science)
Unless you are near a university with a library science program, there’s really no sense in keeping most of your library-related books on the public shelves. Find a space in the staff area for them, and discard all material that is obsolete or outdated.
030 (Encyclopedias)I’m almost afraid to talk about print encyclopedias here, for I don’t want to incur the wrath of print-loving librarians everywhere. But I think it’s time to face up to the fact that general print encyclopedias are no longer the way to go. If you have a set that is more than three years old, it’s time to send it packing—unless you are in a school library and can honestly say you see—with your own eyes—students using them. Older sets can circulate, but I’d be wary of information over eight years old. Naturally, specialized encyclopedias that are updated irregularly should be retained until a new edition is available, but those are likely shelved in their respective Dewey sections.
Go ahead and keep most trivia books and quotation books as long as you have the room and they are being used. In the case of The Guinness Book of World Records, Farmers’ Almanac, and similar titles, keep the current edition and one previous edition.
100 (Philosophy) Although it’s true that most philosophy books will not become outdated, if the books aren’t circulating, it’s time to weed them out. Do keep a selection of titles that cover Western and Asian philosophies.
130 (Occult, Paranormal, Dream books)
This shelf is likely fairly self-weeding, with a high rate of use and an equally high rate of theft, loss, and damage. Books on witchcraft, dream interpretation, and astrology are easy (and relatively inexpensive) to replace, so weed based on usage and appearance.
While the classics of psychology can remain on the shelves based on popularity and use, your pop psychology and self-help books need a frequent weed. Keep an eye on titles that are no longer popular, and don’t bother holding on to celebrity books for more than a few years. In general, you should consider weeding self-help books that have a copyright older than five years.
160 (Logic) & 170 (Ethics and Morality)
Discard worn-out classics in the field and replace with new editions where possible. Examine the books in the 170s for outdated outlooks or moral values, particularly on hot-button topics such as euthanasia or sexuality.
200 (Religion and Mythology)
It can feel difficult to weed books on religion, because you might not want to offend anyone or be accused of favoritism. But if you have something current on each of the major international religions—Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Taoism—you’re well covered. Add Scientology and sects such as Amish, Mennonite, and others as space and interest allow. Although the ideas in religious writings do not tend to go out of date, they do reflect the period in which they were written, and the language becomes dated, so it’s useful to weed on a 10-year cycle. Keep classics by famous theologians as long as they are popular and in good condition. Mythology is usually of great interest to students, so keep several copies on hand of the popular works.
Get ready to weed the 300s—a tricky section!—in the next issue of Corner Shelf.
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