Weed 'Em and Weep: Hoarding is Not Collection Development


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Reap the benefits of a well-weeded collection! This session will discuss weeding techniques, collection management policies, and how to motivate reluctant weeders—all with sense of humor and encouragement from the pair behind the blog “Awful Library Books.” Participants will find joy in a shelf list that reflects a clean, relevant, and current collection!

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  • I want to introduce the concept of holistic library service here. This means that everything is connected, and that library success depends on all library departments and services working together.
    For example, programming, technology, the collection, and the facility rely on each other for library success – which is more important than the success of an individual service.
  • The next question I want you to think about is “Are you proud of your library’s collection?”
    What are you proud of?
    Its depth?
    It’s breadth?
    It’s currency?
    It’s relevancy to your patrons and your community?
    …Or are you defensive of your library’s collection?
    “It’s the best we can do with limited funds/space/staff/time…”
    When you visit other libraries, how do you compare your collection to theirs?
  • We’ve been there:
    -small library with small budget and small staff
    -large library where each person has limited control of the whole
    -busy days and lots of responsibilities
    What challenges are there to collection management here?
    -Space -Time -Budget

    -Collection development demands on other departments (wanting to improve something, but not wanting to burden another department with the project and not wanting to step on their toes by doing it yourself)

    We are here to offer solutions to your challenges and inspire you to manage your collections fully and deeply.
  • Let’s put this holistic idea into a graphical flow. Regardless of the size, type or mission, all libraries follow this kind of lifecycle on the most basic level. Libraries select and acquire, then catalog, process and shelve the item. Eventually books become outdated damaged or irrelevant and then we go back to selection. Every item in the collection functions in the same way. Each item has it’s own life cycle. That lifecycle is essentially the heartbeat of the library and no two collections will behave the same.

    Examples: a Latin dictionary vs a James Patterson best seller

    All sections of the life cycle are equally important, but are not equal in terms of time spent/energy given to each category. Often librarians love the selection process (or as I like to call it, shopping for books with other people’s money). Particularly in larger libraries, whole other departments and people are responsible the other parts of the lifecycle.

    Even if you have the greatest, most beautiful and community inspired collection, if it isn’t found and circulated the collection is almost worthless to your users. When we understand the entire lifecycle and our place within it, it is easier to manage your collection. Even in my tiny library I am responsible for this entire cycle but other people have roles within the process that I must consider.

    Bottom line, think of your items moving through life and the library in this fashion and at each stop on the circle you have an opportunity to get involved!
  • We have all kinds of excuses for why we don’t like to weed

    (Such as…next slide)
  • Keep examples of really old/bad condition books at the ref desk

  • https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7109/8155062740_bc01aca686_z.jpg

    Then keep it!
    One or two favorites are not the problem.
    It’s when you can’t let go of anything that we have a problem!

    Also, then it is up to you to talk it up, display it, check it out yourself…make it work!!

    And finally… how much do you like it? Be realistic.
    Where else can you get it?
    Is this your personal collection?

  • Gift policies should include a statement about collection management: repair, replace, weed
  • Reminder of the collection life cycle.

    You can gather metrics at EVERY stage of the life cycle to help make decisions about the collection.
  • The Circulation metric is a difficult one to define.

    The word “circulation” implies a circle.

    Is one circulation the combination of check-out and check-in?

    Is one circulation just the check-out? In that case, check-out and check-in is two measurements.

    Collection use may include in-library use, not just check-outs. Also, not just how many times the item was used, but who used it and when it was used.

    The Sirsi/Dynix Symphony problem: you “check out” an item to damaged, mending, temporarily unavailable, display. Was it actually used by a patron or was it only “checked out” to a status?

  • Many ILS’s will tell you:

    -HOW MANY circulations an item has had since the record was created
    -When the LAST circulation was

    Not many (if any!) will tell you WHEN each of those circulations happened and/or WHAT KIND of circulation it was.

    A report of every item in a certain collection that circulated LAST year could be very telling, though:
    -Duplicates where the circulations of each copy are widely disparate. Why did one copy circulate 30 times and the other twice? Was it missing? Damaged? Long overdue?

    -Items with very old publication dates that had significant circulations. Do you need more updated items on that subject? Did something important happen related to that item, like a movie release of an old fiction title or a current event about a place/natural disaster/celebrity death/etc.
  • Group metrics describe the activity of items as a group.

    They are used to answer questions like:
    How are youth nonfiction science titles performing compared to the overall performance of youth nonfiction?
    How old is the youth science collection (on average)?
    How does the use of downloadable materials compare to print?
    What items are more likely to be stolen or damaged?

    Data on libraries for state of Michigan: contains some collection data including budget, size youth vs adult, etc.

  • Average age and median age should be reported carefully.

    Only include similar items.

    For example, if you include a history collection with very old publication dates in the same age statistic as very current collections, the age of the whole collection is brought down.

    This report gives you an idea of how old a group of items skews.
  • Item metrics describe the activity of a single item in the collection.

    They are used to answer questions like:
    How does its use compare to other titles?
    How old is it?
    What is its physical condition?
    Is there an updated edition available?
    Is there a better title?
    What is this book’s competition? Example: Pete the cat Oh David

  • Collection turnover is how many times an item was checked out in a particular time period. A high turnover indicates a very popular, well-used item.

    Average use per title: Past use is a great predictor of future use!

  • A collection making up X% of total volumes make up roughly the same % of total circulation

    Ie. If the 500s make up 15% of the total non-fiction collection, the 500s should make up close to 15% of total non-fiction circulation.

    If collection size is greater than its % of total circ, weeding is needed.

    If collection size is less than its % of total circ, add more titles or allocate more budget to that collection.

    The goal is to balance collection size with % of total circulation.

    Again, be sure to only include related items in this statistic.
  • If you know the cost of each item in a collection
    -and the total circulations of that item
    -you can calculate cost per use.

    Academics: It may be important for you to share “cost per student” numbers with admins.
    Publics: You can share “cost per patron” numbers.
    -Include # of students/patrons in the calculation
  • https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5517/10880479994_4c9ae1233f_h.jpg

    Every time you sort a report in Excel you get a different piece of information abut the collection.
    For example, run a shelf list of one collection.
    Then sort by Call number, number of checkouts, date last circulated, etc.
    No matter what field you sort by, you still look at the whole data set.

    Sort by title: flags duplicates
    Sort by call number: flags linking errors

    Look for any “weirdness.”

    Don’t be intimidated by the fact that you’re looking at a list of thousands of books. You can scan quickly and see things that look out of place.
  • When gathering data, sometimes the numbers don’t seem right.

    If the numbers don’t reflect the library’s activity, you should do a collection audit to find out.

    An audit is an examination. In a collection audit, you look closely at the collection to find out how accurate the metrics are.

    You also want to identify the problem so that future measurements are accurate.

    This can be quite complicated in a large library! It involves sampling the collection. Looking closely at a certain number of items, and their catalog records, will let you calculate an error rate.

    For example, if you look at 100 items and 50 of them have errors, your error rate is 50%.

    There are online tools to help you calculate sample size and error rate.
  • https://www.flickr.com/photos/83633410

    Shelf balancing
    -Shifting to accommodate “pockets” of space in places they are not needed
    Give more space to things that are popular so you can buy more of those materials and have them on-hand always
    Things that are always checked out don’t need space.
    Formula of available space to % of checkouts from given area, etc. Click on Practical Librarian for full article.

    Other physical space issues:
    -Collections that wrap around to weird places – disjointed shelving
    -Size of shelf has to accommodate size of items: art books, picture books, paper backs
    -MK’s picture books on tall shelves: things on lower shelves circulate better because children can reach them
  • We were asked to talk about purchasing nonfiction books (subject specific resources and resources for different age levels)

    The first question is: Is your collection broad or is it deep?

    The next question is: Is it a popular materials collection or do your patrons have more serious research needs?

    You know about review journals, Amazon, award winners, etc. so we will skip those.
  • Readingrockets.org (Lessons, reading strategies, activities for kids. Whole section on non-fiction for kids.)

    https://brevity.wordpress.com/ (literary non-fiction for adults)

    Scholastic’s “Common Core for Teachers” page
  • Staff and patrons are fantastic “people resources.”

    What expertise exists on staff? What materials do they recommend?

    Patrons: Everyone has a “Marge”
    A patron who’s always ahead of the curve
    Suggests titles that you might not have known about otherwise, or may not have given enough notice to

    We can put “Family” in this category too.
    Mary calls her dad for coin information (while he was in the hospital!!)
    Holly calls her husband for flying/beer/golf information

  • https://www.flickr.com/photos/miguelvirkkunen/14265343841

    Save yourself from a ton of vendor visits throughout the year.
    Set up one day where vendors can come in on a scheduled time slot to show you their materials.
    They have to stick to their time slot
    You can compare materials and vendors to each other more clearly
  • https://www.flickr.com/photos/statephotos/4408440961

    Something happen? Who are the experts weighing in on the topic? What have they written?
    Gives you an idea of what subjects may balance viewpoints on the topic, too.
  • Now let’s talk about purchasing fiction (for all ages).

    The following slides include resources that will keep you up to date on trends in sub-genres, plus bestsellers, award winners, and general fiction “news.”
  • Also ask on #librarylife for a quick answer
  • Many of these shows have clips online
  • Weed 'Em and Weep: Hoarding is Not Collection Development

    1. 1. Weed ‘Em and Weep! Holly Hibner and Mary Kelly awfullibrarybooks.net
    2. 2. Does your collection help meet your mission?
    3. 3. Are you proud of your collection?
    4. 4. A good library is like a good haircut. It’s not what you cut – it’s what you leave. Anne Felix, Grand Prairie (TX) Public Library System http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/ld/pubs/crew/crewmethod08.pdf
    5. 5. Libraries are not in the business of collecting “things,” but providing content and access to content.
    6. 6. …But the public doesn’t “get” it
    7. 7. How to Get More Fun Out of Smoking Ram 1941
    8. 8. What Makes a Telephone Work Darwin 1970
    9. 9. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl Frank This edition: 1993
    10. 10. Reuse: Craft Programs
    11. 11. …But it’s historical
    12. 12. Atomic Bombing Davis, Ed 1950
    13. 13. …But someone might need it
    14. 14. Be Bold with Bananas Banana Control Board 1970
    15. 15. …But it’s in good shape
    16. 16. …But I like it!
    17. 17. …But we won’t have anything left
    18. 18. …But it was a gift
    19. 19. …But I don’t have time
    20. 20. Weeding Personalities • The Hoarder • The Randomizer • The Professor • The Snob
    21. 21. Don’t be sentimental
    22. 22. Collection Objectives
    23. 23. Collection Benchmarks How is the collection performing?
    24. 24. Circulations Over Time
    25. 25. Group Metrics
    26. 26. Average Age vs. Median Age
    27. 27. Item Metrics
    28. 28. Turnover
    29. 29. Relative Use Collection Size Total Circulation
    30. 30. Cost Per Use
    31. 31. Sorting
    32. 32. If the data points to a problem, a collection audit should be performed.
    33. 33. Shelf Balancing
    35. 35. Online
    36. 36. Vendor Day
    37. 37. Current Events
    38. 38. Some GREAT Fiction Review Blogs • Early Word • Book Riot • Smart B!tches, Trashy Books • Pop Culture Nerd • Books I Done Read • Huffington Post Books • Bookalicious Babe • Stacked • Monkey See • SF Signal • LabLit • Book Slut • Nancy Pearl
    39. 39. Some GREAT fiction Twitter Feeds: @NYerFiction @SciFi @NewYorker @nationalbook @longreads @flavorwire @electriclit @center4fiction @galleycat @huffpostbooks
    40. 40. Some GREAT TV Shows that Feature Books • Good Morning America • Today Show • Book TV • BBC: Talking • Books • PBS: Connie Martinson Talks Books
    41. 41. Some GREAT Magazines that Review Fiction • Entertainment Weekly • People • Book Page • B&T Forecast • Foreword Reviews • NYT Book Review • New Yorker • …and national newspapers, too!
    42. 42. Databases that Highlight New Fiction and Genres • GoodReads – genre lists, new authors, all ages • NoveList – for all ages • Books & Authors – “spotlight,” new arrivals, award winners, genre lists, seasonal picks • eSequels (series) – super cheap at $35 per library!
    43. 43. Everything is Connected
    44. 44. 500 Tasty Sandwich Recipes Berolzheimer, ed. 1951
    45. 45. How to Live in Your Van and Love It Poteet 1976
    46. 46. Your Power as a Woman Archer 1957
    47. 47. Hotline: The Letters I Get…and Write! Reynolds 1972
    48. 48. The Computer from A to Z Kalman 1999
    49. 49. Holly Hibner and Mary Kelly submit@awfullibrarybooks.net Twitter: @awfullibbooks www.slideshare.net/awfullibrarybooks awfullibrarybooks.net Contact Us!