Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Weeding: Part One

I am concerned about weeding the collection at SPL. This has been a concern for some time. I have been vocal in meetings and blogged about this in the past. I must say, my Supervisor, RH, has been open to discussion. One of the things supervisors learn in supervisor school is when one of your charges has an idea let them develop it.

RH has asked me to develop my ideas about weeding our collection.I have put together a list of criteria for weeding and for keeping, giving this list to staff and asking for input. One person has given me input. I’ll not draw any conclusions about this for a bit.

First, I want to develop my ideas. Do you remember taking a class in collection development in school? You had to write a collection development policy for a specific type of library, looking at all of the qualifications and limitations and audiences and staffing levels. Part of that policy was weeding. When do you get rid of a book?

I have no desire to beat a dead horse, to overuse a coined phrase. I do want to make sure everyone is on the same page and that I am thinking about this correctly. I don’t want us to be “blind-sided” because we have not been aware of what’s in our “blind spot."

Every policy should have checks and balances. The “check” in weeding is identifying reasons to weed. The “balance” is identifying reasons to NOT weed. For every reason to get rid of something there has to be a reason to keep it, or an agreement it needs to go.

For instance, a reason to weed is if the information is inaccurate. Health and legal information go out of date quickly. We do not want to have books on the shelf which propose our patrons do something which has been shown unhealthy, or where a law no longer applies. They could get in trouble, get sick, die. Currency is extremely important.

However, we must be aware of how far this goes in the field. The California Uniform Building Code is updated all of the time. But houses built in the 1960’s or 1970’s are not required to meet the standards of 2009. People who own these houses need access to the code under which their house was built. If someone is renovating their home then they may well need to upgrade to the newest code, otherwise they will not pass inspection. At least for the part of the structure they renovated. Since I’m not an attorney I cannot give advice.

The point is we don’t toss old UBC's just because they are old. They do not go out of date. To weed this title is either an act of ignorance or laziness. We’re librarians. We are neither ignorant nor lazy. If I don’t know the answer then I find someone who does. If I don’t want to put in the time then I need to find another job.


Gerald F. Ward

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you, and have a couple of comments: 1. The example you gave is a good reason to have subject specialists who know not only their subject in depth, but also the publishers, publishing schedules, etc. for standard works in that subject.
    2. Despite the current obsession with currency of content, I think there is still a good argument for superseding some serials to other branches. It's a way to be frugal with the materials budget while still ensuring that at least one library has the latest info.