December 04, 2007


Umm... maybe I should call it deselection. Whatever the term, my library is in the midst of a large weeding project. We had several thousand titles stored in a remote facility in a different part of the state. That facility ran out of room and the books are being returned. All 43,000 of them. The returned items do contain journals as well as monographs.

To start, we pulled a list of the journal titles and made decisions on what to keep or discard before they arrived. My criteria for this was if my holdings were incomplete and complete holdings were available locally, then I withdrew my holdings. However, there are five librarians involved in this project, each with collection development responsibilities for different areas. And, we're all making the withdraw or keep decision differently. It's really rather fascinating to watch.

Then, we get to the monographs. They are in our local remote storage and have come in by size (they were stored by size). So, they are in random order. This means you have to peruse every shelf to see what titles fall in your area. They went to remote storage because they had one or zero circulations. However, upon reviewing many titles, those circulations were since we brought up the ILS. Prior to that, many titles had very high circulation, but due to age or change in instructors or programs or the way classes are taught, that usage has dropped off. Some have been recalled from remote and have a flag on them, so those automatically get kept. That was a fairly easy decision, though I've wanted to discard a few that were recalled, because I know I have more current titles in those areas.

I have collection development responsibilities for areas that have materials that age out, although I think most areas have materials that age out, but it has to be thought out. Each subject area here basically has it's own collection development policy (called an Information Management and Access Plan); there is a general weeding/deselection policy, but it hasn't been updated in awhile. So, again, all five librarians are using different standards/judgement to do their deselecting. For me it goes if: the age of the book (especially if it's a text book) is over five years old; bibliographies (pretty much replaced and outdated by databases); symposium proceedings, pamphlets specific to a particular event or city (unless it's in my state), especially if the condition of the item is bad; biographies, especially if they've never circulated or it's a person not widely known (we received many by donation); dissertations; and statistics and other data that can now be found online. I also look closely at materials related to other countries for fit with programs that are offered by the university. If the fit isn't good, the material goes. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, as well as some materials that just have to be reveiwed.

We have one more shipment to go. It's time consuming and tedious, but it has given me great insight into not only the process of deselection, but also collection development. Since it's time to be updating my the collection development plans for my areas, what I've learned from doing this project will be incorporated there as well.

On a side note, I did attend the Charleston Conference last month and attended some very good sessions and lively lunches. Once I can get my thoughts together on that, I will be posting on the things that really stood out to me.