Wednesday, June 19, 2013

#blogjune Post 19 - Looking for Inspiration - Some thoughts on Weeding

Ok I'm really late with this post (although not too late as it is still the 19th day of June).

I had a rushed morning with a freezing start of boot camp at 6am - but a beautiful sunrise over North Beach/Kalang/Bellinger Rivers (where the rivers meet the sea), then a rush to be ready to get a lift to work at 8am.  You see my car is currently not road worthy until I can get it back to the mechanics next week to get the bushes replaced - we will not think about the damage to the hip pocket or the limited funds I will have for my trip to Ipswich during the school holidays (yes I'm going home for a week) - the mechanic promises that I "won't know myself" when I get the car fixed!!

Tomorrow morning will be another rush as I get an earlier lift to work - thank goodness no boot camp so I will most likely rush out another blog post tomorrow morning.

I now only have 10 minutes until Adam Hills Tonight starts so will pick up the pace.

I'm looking for inspiration for a post and thought I'd discuss (briefly) a post I read this morning on Tame the Web.

A library in the USA has weeded all the non-fiction books in their collection published pre-2003 to make way for new material and in preparation for the implementation of RFID.

Now so far this year I have weeded two of my three branch libraries with the assistance of staff from HQ.  We use the standard (I think) anything over 10 years old that hasn't been loaned in 2 years.  However, I do use some discretion by looking at the condition of the item and if it still will have some in-house use.  But sometimes I do get ruthless and if it has only gone out once in the last 2 years or has been consistently borrowed by the one person and is looking pretty grotty - then it may end up on the book sale table.

But what a radical (possibly stupid depending on how you look at it) move to weed items without checking usage.

Then that makes me think about another article I read recently discussing whether weeding certain items from a library's collection is actually resulting in the dumbing down of library collections - But what if I can't find it on the Internet?

In particular, this bit of the article I found interesting: On a recent catalogue search, I discovered that all the books on a particular key subject had disappeared, apparently weeded out according to publication date or number of borrowing transactions. When I reported this, I was told I was free to recommend any titles I thought appropriate. However, an effective selection (and deselection) policy should ensure that key subject areas remain represented.
Merely relying on the public to fill gaps simply leads to collections biased towards the needs of a few activist clients. As many academics have said over recent years, it is also foolish to deselect based on the number of times an item has been lent out, because many books are consulted on the premises, without being borrowed. Other works may be used very rarely, but nevertheless be crucial sources for research. A consequence of this ''deselection by unpopularity'' is the dumbing down of library collections, making them less relevant to serious researchers.

I think when it comes to weeding a collection - you have to know your community and what they read.  But then what about new people to your community - how do you know what they will like?

You also have to know what gets used in-house or where the gaps may be.

Weeding is a careful task requiring community and subject/genre/readers advisory knowledge and should not be taken lightly - although there is some quiet satisfaction in cleaning out collections and one can get carried away!

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