Let's talk about weeding, shall we?
I'm really interested in how YOU do it. I want to hear all the gory details. Spill it. Let me tell how it would work here, if it was a perfect world:

A librarian would gather their books together, CHECK THE DATABASE/CATALOG, take into account more than just what is happening at your particular branch, make a decision.

Gather books together: Doesn't mean you have to gather a cart full of books. It doesn't mean you have to finish one section before you start another. Do what is convenient! If FIC is tight in the V's (as if) then do that section. If the 641.5's need room RIGHT NOW, do that. MYS, SF, etc. Do what needs to be done. If you have time to go from A to Z in fiction you're lucky.

Check the database/Catalog & Take the entire system into account: These go together and we fall down here. Lately, some librarians have fallen into the habit of seeing multiple copies of books and just discarding until they get to a number they like. But we are a floating collection (oh the posts we could have about that!) and so it isn't just what it looks like at your branch, but how the overall system looks. We have 22 branches. Yes, you may have 5 copies of a title at your branch, but those are the ONLY five copies in the system. Or the others may have 90+ circ, and you have the best five copies. Or all the copies listed are missing/lost/stolen/in witness protection.....whatever. The point is, the catalog is an important tool. Now, we hear that people don't have time to check every title in the catalog if they want to get weeding done. My question is: how do you NOT have time? It would be like ordering a book we already own because I don't have time to check if we have it already. What? This, obviously, is my pet peeve. I don't have many, but this is definitely one of them.

Of course, those of you who follow me on twitter know that it is anything but a perfect world. We keep books that haven't circulated in 4 (or 14 or 22) years, and get rid of books with a pub date of 2010 and still have holds. Or get rid of copies of books that had 5 circs, while there is a copy with 91 circs still making the rounds.

And then there are damaged items. I don't know about you, but I'm not eager to check out a book that has "stains noted" written in the back. Great. You noted them. Why do you think anyone wants to check out a book with mystery stains? One of the best stories ever is when we found a CD, still circulating, that had "crack noted" on the case.

Crack. Noted.

Someone had complained because it wouldn't play, if you can imagine that.

Okay, that's us. What about you? Tell me your best stories.


Helgagrace said…
I am in charge of weeding my own sections, which means that I weed the ones I like the most and the ones I hate the most, but don't pay enough attention to the ones in the middle until they run out of shelf space.

I'm sure we would all benefit from a regular weeding schedule, but in practice it doesn't work that way. In library school they told us about some shelf space formula, but from my experience, things get crammed on the shelf until someone complains, and then a librarian is pretty much forced to weed. Then, in the hurry to weed, perhaps the librarian doesn't take the time to pursue the steps that Robin suggests above, even though the time spent on research will ultimately save the library (and the librarians) time and money.

Weeding has to be done. I feel like I'm finally at the point in my career when I don't have any pangs when I'm weeding books; in fact, I get a strange glee from removing an item from the system and throwing it on the free shelf for somebody to find and take home.
Karen said…
We all love weeding nonfiction. It has never been done here, so you find all kinds of fun things. Awful Library Books has posted at least half a dozen of our submissions already. We also almost always find their posts on our own shelves.

We've been focusing on the areas where out-of-date information is most dangerous. For example, in health and in financial advice. Also areas where out of date information can be insensitive or worse, such as in psychology and anything dealing with the mentally disabled. (Titles like 'Training Your Retarded Child' went early on.)

The only thing that really keeps us from filling up several carts per week is the time required to withdraw each title from the OPAC and the actual disposal process. Much middle of the night sneaking out to a dumpster.
Donna said…
Last year we had to weed our 40,000 volume collection down to 20,000 to fit in our new, smaller high school library. I'm not terrifically sentimental about great literature so I did the 800's,as well as the 500's, 600's, and a few other small sections. I gave our semi-literate dept. head the fiction. We based it solely on circulation, because we didn't have time to be fussy. Looong story short, our 20,000 volume library is doing triple the circulation. So weeding does work.

On the flip side, I once weeded 10 copies of The Thorn Birds from our huge public library collection 6 months before the mini-series aired. Not my finest hour as a weeder.
robin said…

*ahem* Once again...

@Donna that was long before there were 20 websites telling you there was going to be a miniseries, so you're off the hook! That was just bad luck. (but it makes a great story!)

@Karen I had to check our catalog to make sure we didn't have that title...

How long of a non circulating time do ya'll give a book before it's time for it to go?

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