Friday, June 26, 2015

Weeding the Collection - Advice and Feedback Please!

Weeding a library's collection is always a source of contention. Always. I was once weeding YA books that had water damage. A teen saw me tossing the destroyed innards into the recycling and she actually make a high pitched scream as though I had murdered her cat. But it is a necessary and important task for all libraries. Weeding makes sure that the collection only has books that are current, relevant, accurate, popular, and (I cannot stress this enough) in readable, sanitary condition. It is important to communicate to concerned parties that this doesn't mean we are getting rid of all your favorite classics. We are buying new copies to replace ones that have been a little too 'well loved.' Weeding doesn't mean that we are 'throwing away perfectly good books.' We are donating, selling, or recycling material that no longer circulates to make room for books on the shelves that people actually need and want. But I know I don't have to preach to the choir here. Mostly, I wanted to share my process and get feedback. Let's begin.

Look at this shelf of J Hardbacks I have not yet weeded:

There is a combination of things going on here other than some of these books being MUSTIE (a term from the CREW Method for weeding meaning Misleading, Ugly, Superseded, Trivial, Irrelevant, or material that can be easily found Elsewhere). Can you spot the issues with some of these Juvenile books? They are in the wrong collection! Quite a few of these are blatantly Young Adult titles. These need to moved and that will free up space for this collection (although there is a space issue for that collection as well). There are also some picture books that need to be evaluated. Should these really be in J or in E? I've also been finding a lot of Easy Readers. Once we get those sorted out then we can focus on the weeding.

Here is a shelf of J Hardbacks I have already weeded:

How did we get here? Here are my steps. Please feel free to share how you weed and give feedback. Keep in mind this is for a rural library with only one staff person for weeding. If you work for a larger system, you probably have a whole team of people working on weeding and they, undoubtedly, have a system in place that is very different from mine. 

1. To the stacks!

Go out to your collection and shelf read. See if titles are labeled or misplaced and pull those. Check condition. Pull really ratty or old copies. 

2. Reports

Hopefully your ILS has reporting functions (most do). Every system is different and some are more frustrating than others. I had to orient myself to Evergreen for my new position and it was a challenge. I am most interested in finding titles that aren't circulating. To run this report make sure it has: Call Number, Title, Barcode, Item Status, # of circs within a set number of years (for our J collection I started with 0 circs in 5 years, only items added at least 5 years ago). Here is what my report looked like. The number on the far right is how many total circs in the items life time. I probably didn't need that information, but it is interesting to see and may help identify lost items.

3. Pull books and evaluate.

Each title has a different reason for not checking out. As time consuming as it is, you must now determine what that cause is for each book. If a book is a classic or award winner but in good shape - maybe it needs to be cleaned and displayed. Not sure if it is a keeper? You may want to invest in the Children's Core Collection guide. If the book has just lost popularity but is in good shape - give to the Friends' book sale or donate. If a book is in bad shape - see if we need a new copy and recycle. Like I mentioned earlier, you will find that many of the titles are not on the shelf at all. Time to mark them as lost and see if you need to replace them. 

4. Delete!

Once you know which ones need to go you can delete them and de-process however your library handles that. We delete them from the system, mark through the barcode with a sharpie, and erase the RIFD tags so they don't trigger the gate alarm. 

5. Reorder and Display!

Time to reorder any of the ratty classics and display the books in good shape that need more visibility. I once used this sign for a display of YA books:

Optional 6. Programming with Recycled Materials

I really liked the suggestions put forward in the School Library Journal article that just came out, "The Art of Wedding." The author had some really good suggestions for crafts made with weeded materials. You should check it out!

There you have it. This is what I do. How do you weed?


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