Library Weeding And User Perception


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A pilot study that examines the correlation between a stringent weeding policy and user perceptions of utility.

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  • Hi, this is Shannon Barniskis. I’m going to walk you through some research Sarah Cornoyer and I collaborated on regarding the effect of weeding on user perception of library collections.
  • Sarah & I looked at 43 articles, books and papers and in every one an assumptions was expressed that weeding increases user satisfaction were mentioned. Nevertheless, Dilevko and Gottlieb (2003) found that nearly every librarian surveyed trusted that “weeding increases book usage (91.8%) and patron satisfaction (86.1%)” (90). But the data isn’t so clear. Some studies say circulation does increase with weeding, other studies say they may not. And no studies have been done examining the user’s perception of weeded vs. unweeded collections.
  • The 2008 DPI Library Annual Report data shows that the BD service population is almost 6 times Horicon’s service population. The BD collection has not been weeded, but Horicon’s has been strongly weeded.
  • The user perception of quantity: the shelves are considered full or just right 90% in Horicon, 89% in BD Per capita, the Horicon collection contains twice as much, but how relevant is that when the overall size of the Horicon collection is 37% of the size of the BD collection?
  • Far more Horicon users participated than BD users—could be because the BD collection is old enough to feel irrelevant to BD users. More studies necessary to find out why the BD users didn’t participate.
  • Over half of the Horicon collection is 10 years old or younger. In Beaver Dam such recently published items comprise 38% of the collection. Nearly 20% over 20 years of age.
  • Since science data is considered obsolescent within five years, a median age difference of over 3. 5 years is a fairly big deal. The range of the collection is also significant. Books from 1943 appear on the Beaver Dam shelves, while the oldest book in the Horicon collection is from 1985. The histrograms show that the data is not evenly distributed, so the median age of the books may be more useful comparison than the mean age. While the mean and median years might suggest that these two collections aren’t that far apart in age, a t-tests strongly suggest that there is a significant difference.
  • None of the surveyed users considered the collection to be “Ancient”. Strikingly, 2 of the users considered the BD collection to be brand new!
  • Circ per capita is the ONLY way in which the Horicon circulation can begin to compete with the BD collection. In all other ways of looking at it, the BD collection is used far more than Horicon’s. In prior studies circulation statistics were the only examination of how satisfied users were with a weeded collection. But we think circulation is not the only way to measure satisfaction—it’s possible that a fresh, new looking collection may signal relevance to users and it could be used as a marketing tool.
  • No one perceived either collection as untrustworthy or not factual. The trustworthiness perception of the two collections were more or less equal, percentage-wise.
  • When it came to the perception of whether the collection was current and up-to-date, there was a marked difference between the two collections. Some patrons saw the Beaver Dam collection as out of date, but no one thought that about the Horicon collection.
  • All the users surveyed felt the juvenile science books were important.
  • This comparison shows some differences in the way the two collections are seen. While only one person thought the BD collection looked “not-so-nice” the small sample size makes that one response look large proportionally.
  • Everyone is saying there’s plenty there, but fewer are saying they’d definitely use the BD collection after examining it than in Horicon—where there is an increase of “Yes” I’d use it—marketing and awareness. The prior use data is almost the same percentage-wise—increased perception of future utility in Horicon The drop of the Beaver Dam user’s “I have used it” to “I will use it in the future” may reflect the user’s perception of the lesser relevancy of the older collection. Talk about recommendations: BD Planets, science career books, fossils, rocks genetics, Horicon rock books on bottom shelf (relates to research on shelf level)
  • Unfortunately, there were too few surveys returned in the BD portion of this study and too many uncontrolled variables for us to have conclusive findings to report. When we consider the low response rate in BD, we think it could be indicative of the need for further follow-up studies to see if vigorous and continuous weeding, materials promotion, targeted acquisitions, and display could affect circulation rates and patron perceptions of relevance. A larger, proportional random sample and strategic marketing campaign might support participation rates in future studies. The higher response rate at Horicon library might be indicative of the higher circulation and relevance rates related to the collection development and de-acquisition policies and practices at the Horicon Public Library. Long-term relationships may also be a factor in the uneven response we’ve seen here. In BD there have been 5 children’s librarians in 10 years while in Horicon there has the same 1 for that same period of time. We see further research in this area as vital to hands-on collection development. It’s about time someone examined the truism that weeding makes the user happy.—by actually asking the users. Marketing of survey--handselling
  • Library Weeding And User Perception

    1. 1. COLLECTION PERCEPTION: THE EFFECT OF WEEDING Sarah Jones Cournoyer & Shannon Crawford Barniskis University of Wisconsin Milwaukee School of Information Studies
    2. 2. The literature Good live books are often lost or buried among dead ones. It has been shown by experiment again and again that a collection of best books, when grouped by themselves, receive twice as much use as when scattered among old and obsolete material. A library's shelves attract readers not in proportion to the number of volumes on them but in proportion to the amount of fresh and vital material which they contain. (Wynkoop 1911, p. 54)
    3. 3. Two collections examined <ul><li>Hypothesis: A well-weeded collection satisfies patron expectation more than an unpruned collection, and acts as a public relations tool for the library. A weeded collection signals relevance and utility. </li></ul><ul><li>We used the juvenile science collection (DDC 500s) as a snapshot of the collection in general. </li></ul>
    4. 4. Collection size <ul><li>The Beaver Dam juvenile science collection consists of 2493 items. </li></ul><ul><li>The Horicon collection contains 928 items. </li></ul>
    5. 5. Relevance to the user community <ul><li>Our definition of relevance: current, factual, trustworthy and important. </li></ul><ul><li>User population between ages of 6-14 </li></ul><ul><li>25% parents, 75% kids </li></ul><ul><li>Random nonproportional sample </li></ul><ul><li>Population & sample size (Beaver Dam/Horicon) 1980/380, 100/50 </li></ul><ul><li>Rate of response 9/26 </li></ul>
    6. 6. Age of books <ul><li>The oldest item in the BD collection is from 1943. </li></ul><ul><li>The oldest item in Horicon collection is from 1985. </li></ul>
    7. 7. Age Statistics Horicon Beaver Dam Mean 1999.851 1996.258 Median 2000 1997 Mode 1999 2000 Range 24 66 IQR 10 11 Std. Dev. 6.13525 7.993744 T-test 1.38877E-34
    8. 8. User perception of age
    9. 9. Circulation as perception of value <ul><li>Although the service population is smaller, holdings are smaller and the age range of the collection is narrower, the Horicon collection circulates more books to fewer people. </li></ul><ul><li>BD science circ: 44418 </li></ul><ul><li>Horicon science circ: 5835 </li></ul><ul><li>BD science circ per capita 0.74 </li></ul><ul><li>Horicon science circ per capita 0.98 </li></ul>
    10. 10. Collection Perception: Trustworthiness
    11. 11. Collection Perception: Currency
    12. 12. Collection Perception: Importance
    13. 13. User perception of overall attractiveness
    14. 14. Used before/will use
    15. 15. Conclusion <ul><li>This pilot study reported indications of use and perception that do seem to support the hypothesis. </li></ul><ul><li>There are so many uncontrolled variables that we can state no conclusive findings. </li></ul><ul><li>Long range trend studies are needed to measure perception of the collection before/after/during weeding process. </li></ul>