Weeding: Why is it so difficult and what can we do about it?
Ranganathan’s 5 Laws Books are for use. Every reader his book. Every book its reader. Save the time of the reader. A library is a growing organism.
10 Reasons to Weed 1. Increase library appeal 2. Save patrons’ and staffs’ time 3. Protect readers from inaccurate information 4. Encourage browsing 5. Eliminate items no longer of interest to patrons 6. Save space 7. Increase use of other materials 8. Reduce duplicate copies 9. Eliminate items no longer fitting library’s mission 10. Save time inventorying
Rule of Thumb: 3% (required for NE public library accreditation)
Average % Weeded Last Year Average % Withdrawn Libraries Serving Population 100-499 500-999 1000-1999 2000-4999 5000-9999 10000-49999 5.00 5.22 7.90 6.10 7.81 8.71 Source: 2009 NE Public library statistics
3% of the Average Collection Population Served Average # Books in Collection 3% 7472 11568 15284 27225 36093 85525 224.16 347.04 458.52 816.75 1082.8 2565.8 100-499 500-999 1000-1999 2000-4999 5000-9999 10000-49999 Source: 2009 NE Public library statistics
What are the reasons that weeding doesn’t get done?
1. “There’s no such thing as a bad book.
(The wrong) something is not better than nothing.
"Librarians have a responsibility for discarding unsound books of yesteryear. In the eyes of the public, the fact that they are on the shelves confers upon them an endorsement.“ --Clarke, G. E. "Propaganda." Library World, 42:62-63, October 1939
2. “Someone might need them”
80/20 Rule (Pareto Principle) 20% of your books are responsible for 80% of your circulation
When Loriene Roy weeded 10% of three Illinois public libraries in 1985, only one percent of the weeded books were requested over the following eight months. - Source: “Weeding without tears” by Loriene Roy, Collection Management Vol. 12, #1 and 2, 1990, pp. 83-93, p. 91.
The best predictor of future circulation? Past circulation
Source: Weeding Library Collections, by Stanley J. Slote, 1989, p. 64.
3. “We haven’t gotten all the good out of it yet.” OR “It’s not worn out.”
Collection Development Process and Catalog Circulate Select Weed and discard Cycle
Display: “Good Books You Might Have Missed” Photo: Newton Free Library. Available at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/newtonfreelibrary/4727837472/ start with 12 books--not too many
4. “I don’t want to admit I made a poor selection.”
books All discarded lovers should be given a second chance, but with somebody else. - -Mae West
5. “It might be valuable”
6. “What will people say?”
Like most kinds of equipment, most books eventually lose their effectiveness
7. “We won’t have anything left”
# Books Purchased for Every Book Withdrawn Additions/Withdrawals Libraries Serving Population 2.16 3.39 5.098 4.97 1.26 1.10 100-499 500-999 1000-1999 2000-4999 5000-9999 10000-49999 Source: 2009 NE Public Library Statistics
American Book Production (New Books and New Editions) 1920……..….……6187 1957……..…...13,142 1977……..…...35,469 2007……..….185,969 --Bowker Annual, 1959, 1978, 2009
8. The library looks fine/ there’s plenty of room
Ask someone who is not familiar with your library, or Take pictures
Shelves just inside the door circulate 24% more books than shelves 15 feet inside the door. (74) (98) Shaw, 1938
Books Circulated from One Section of Shelves 18 Top 29 Row 2 18 Row 3 28 Row 4 16 Row 5 13 Row 6 5 Bottom Source: “The Influence of sloping shelves on book circulation” by Ralph R. Shaw, The Library Quarterly, Vol. 8, No. 4, October 1938, pp. 480-490.
In 1973, when Stanley Slote weeded 20% of fiction, six months later circulation increased 106.2%, 20 months later the increase was 121.2%. - Source: Weeding Library Collections by Stanley J. Slote, 1989, p. 65.
9. There isn’t time
Make everyone (staff and volunteers) part of the Weeding Team
Tips Weed as you go—when an item is in hand Set small daily or weekly goals Have a contest Form a support group – “Reluctant Weeders” Make a chart of the stacks and color in where you’ve weeded Have your weeding kit ready to go
10. “I don’t know where to start.”
C.R.E.W. (Continuous Review, Evaluation, and Weeding)
What to WeedorUsing CREW Maximum permissible time without use Copyright DateIs it more than X year(s) ago?
CREW Criteria Musty Ugly Superseded Trivial Irrelevant to your collection Elsewhere (I.L.L.)
To Weed or Not To Weed? Checklist of Weeding Factors Physical Condition Intellectual Content
Any more copies?
Expense to replace
Contributes to Mission
In school curricula?
Your Library Selection Policy Includes :
Sample Policy Language Each item, through its quality, reliability, current usefulness and appearance, must earn its place on the shelf, and contribute to the reliability, reputation and attractiveness of the Library. http://www.infopeople.org/training/past/2007/weeding/ WMRLS_sample_weed_policy.pdf
Quick & Dirty Consider weeding: Duplicate copies no longer needed Items in obviously poor condition Drab items that get lost on shelves Older single title authors Obscure or ephemeral titles Knockoffs of popular authors (Series of Unfortunate Events, Harry Potter) Lesser works of authors who have died Minor author/poet collections Series books when titles are missing Simplified/abridged classics Jeanette Larson, Small Library Mgt. Training Program, Collection Development Course
Steps to Weeding Gather usage statistics Maintain a weeding kit Study the area you will be weeding Weed Double check in indexes & bibliographies Dispose of weeded materials—discard, recycle, sell, donate Order replacements or put on a wish list to reorder when funds are available Merchandise low circulating, high-quality items
Advice for Specific Sections: Picture Books Think boutique (high-quality, current selection) Be aware of ephemeral interests Board books should be replaced more often since they get the most abuse Replace worn copies of perennial faves (multiples)
Advice for Specific Sections: YA Fiction Be ruthless in this section Currency is key Paperbacks >5 years, remove if not circulating well
Advice for Specific Sections: C&YA Non-Fiction Anything is not better than nothing Be aware of online resources Better to lack books that have bad information Use CREW Guidelines by Dewey Class as in adult sections
Other C&YA Issues Abridged classics (often poor quality) Series books (often poor quality, replace if titles don’t stand alone and collect for various reading levels) Older titles – beware of dated look, torn pages, shabby bindings Worn classics should be replaced (Don’t be sentimental!) Geography titles older than 5 years – toss Science, medicine, inventions – rapid changes so update every 5 years Textbooks – gauge by demand in community and homeschool population
Advice for Specific Sections: Reference Older editions may be weeded when superseded Materials should be periodically evaluated, (not as often as circulating collection and not as continuous) Different replacement schedules (new editions may not be as frequent) Keep websites and databases in mind Consider integrating reference materials into the circulating collection, especially if usage is poor
Advice for Specific Sections: Periodicals Current use – use declines drastically 5 years after publication date Interest in circulating older issues – do you allow back issues to circulate? Full-text availability Space
Advice for Specific Sections: Media Subjective Criteria Worn out Out-of-date Rarely used Supplied elsewhere Trivial or faddish
Keepers Volumes of sets and series with special merit Older reference works augmented by (not superseded by) later editionsi.e. Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations Local history Works by local authors
Classics Debate It’s our duty as librarians to expose people to “great” literature. Unless a movie comes out based on a classic, are people still reading them? Read Read
Keys to Weeding Success Make weeding part of policy Build weeding into the regular work schedule Inventory as you weed Follow up on questions/problems Consider the collection as a whole
How Often Between Systematic Reviews? Biography 2 Fiction 2 Large Print 2 Paperbacks 1 Children’s 2 Young Adult 3 Scores 5 Media 2 Software 2 Dewey Years 000 3 100 4 200 5 300 3 400 5 500 2 600 2 700 3 800 5 900 4
Weeding library collections: library weeding methods, 4th ed., by Stanley J Slote. Englewood, Colo. Libraries Unlimited, 1997. ISBN: 1563085119 9781563085116.
Less is more: a practical guide to weeding school library collections, by Donna J Baumbach and Linda L Miller. Chicago. American Library Association, 2006. ISBN: 0838909191 9780838909195.
Collection development and resources access plan for the Skokie Public Library, 3rd ed., by Teri Room and Barbara A Kozlowski. Skokie, IL. Skokie Public Library, 2008. ISBN: 0838985068 9780838985069.