Yesterday, I told my supervisor that I finally felt like a real librarian. Yeah, I’ve had my masters degree for about a year and a half now. And my position title has been “Reference Librarian” for just over a year, but there was one responsibility I hadn’t been given until yesterday: weeding books. That is, going through the stacks and getting rid of old, unneeded titles or suggesting ones to replace. All the other reference librarians – and even some of the reference assistants – in my department have been weeding books and have had that task in their job descriptions since way before I started here, but I just was officially trained yesterday. And what power I feel!
I’ve been assigned the 900s – history, geography and travel guides. Our collection development coordinator, who trained me yesterday, explained that the previous selector for the area was an academic librarian, and because he was kind of stuck in that mindset, our collection tends to be a little more academic than necessary. She also said at some point our library served as a resource collection for the 400s, 600s, and 900s for a consortium, and those areas grew and grew during that period. The 900s also haven’t been weeded in a while – so I may have my job cut out for me. I’m not complaining though!
Fortunately, the collection development department makes the job very easy. They print off a spreadsheet with a range of titles with copy right dates, years titles were added to the collection, total circs (number of times items checked out), year to date circs, and last year’s circs. I basically get to throw out (well, not really throw away, as most of our weeded titles go to the Friends of the Library sale) anything that’s older than 15 years, hasn’t been checked out in more than 3 years, or just looks really old and torn up. The collection development librarian told me condition trumps circulation count, but I can always suggest they replace something if it’s really popular.
6 thoughts on “Out with the old!”
Hi, I saw your submission on This is What a Librarian Looks like and thought I would check out your blog.
I started my job in July of 2010 and that December got handed the Reference Weeding list. I spent all of 2011 and the beginning of this year weeding out our reference section. It went from containing 2512 items to now having 465 items.
Clearing the shelves way was the last step and I now have a reference desk.
I spend most of any given week either deleting books or ordering books.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing Amelia!
My next task will be weeding the 800s in the reference stacks. We have an expansion and renovation project coming up soon, and my supervisor doesn't want us to have to move or pack anything we really don't need. Her goal is to get the entire reference section down to one range!
Here's a link to some of the pictures from our Reference area. I didn't think to take any pics before I started to delete, but you can see the size.
the only change since these pics were taken was the reference desk got shifted to the other side.
Do you also take into consideration whether or not it is easily available elsewhere?
That actually isn't one of the criteria we look at when weeding most materials. Our inter-library loan program operates with the Mid-America Library Alliance/Kansas City Metropolitan Library and Information Network, which provides a courier system that transfers books from public, school and academic libraries easily across the Kansas/Missouri greater metropolitan area. If we remove a title from our collection, we can pretty much trust that a library in the area will have it. If not, we do even submit requests nationally.
Weeding is always psychologically hard. In the 900s, the travel books are easy (The USSR TODAY!), but the historical ones are hard. My rule of thumb is that if anything in my collection appears on Awfullibrarybooks.net, it has to go!