Tuesday, December 6, 2016

How to maintain and weed E-book collections

Samnath, Kayla

Culley, J. (2015). I Feel the Need to Weed!: Maintaining an E-book Collection. The Southeastern Librarian, 63(1), 2.

Author Jennifer Culley is the acquisitions librarian at the university of southern Mississippi. She discusses in her text the need to “weed”, and why perhaps it shouldn’t be viewed as such a negative aspect. She also discusses electronic books, and how it is crucial to continuously evaluation and assess the collection, regardless of format. Culley explains “the idea of more is better does not always hold true” (2015, p. 02).
Culley offers readers a brief historical overview of electronic books. Interestingly enough, electronic books have been around since the 1970’s. Project Gutenberg, which is still going strong today, is one of the first platforms in which electronic books were offered. However, the technology to use these sources was expensive. It wasn’t until the rapid evaluation of technology through netLibrary internet based services, google books, and more recently tablets, kindles, laptops, and smartphones that electronic books really took off (2015, p.02).

Electronic books allow patrons to have access to information at any time. It does not matter if patrons are inside or outside the library. Culley explains that “...there are several avenues to obtaining ebooks for libraries: libraries can purchase them through subscription services where they can get large collections of materials by subject matter, they can order single titles or implement a demand driven e-book acquisitions program” (2015, p.03). Although libraries can obtain electronic books, there is still the matter of weeding, even for electronic materials.

Weeding these materials are necessary due to cluttered search results, old data, or simply wrong information. Culley explains that this outdated information can be harmful, and even stressful on students. Typically users will make a selection on the top results due to muddled results. This became apparent on searches for STEAM, technology, science, and mathematics (2015, p.03).  Culley makes the argument that similar criteria should be used on electronic books as the ones they use for print and other physical materials. A great example of criteria for these types of resources the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Their system for weeding e-books is: “Misleading, and/or factually inaccurate; Ugly, not applicable for ebooks; Superseded, by a truly new edition or by a much better book on the subject; Trivial, of no discernible literary or scientific merit; Irrelevant, to the needs and interests of your communication; Elsewhere, the material can be obtained expeditiously somewhere else” (2015, p.04). Utilizing techniques such as these will allow electronic materials to become more meaningful, and also saving money by cancelling certain subscriptions.

This article was helpful in understanding the concept of weeding, and the impact it can have on electronic books. It offers a really great history of electronic materials, and how libraries have really adapted to this format. The article was extremely useful when completing presentation four. Culley also gives insight from a librarian perspective. It was interesting how the article expressed that librarians are typically hesitant to weed because the thought of throwing away materials can be perceived as detrimental. Culley points out that how there are constantly new editions being published, in which sometimes makes the older versions obsolete. I really liked how Culley simply states that more isn’t always better, sometimes having more makes the information search frustrating, and muddled with useless results.

This article was extremely helpful when completing presentation four. For our proposed budget presentation understanding how to weed, and develop a criteria to assist in making those decisions. I would recommend this article for novices interested in collection development and management. It uses a great case study in order to assist in a deeper understanding of the concept of maintaining a collection, regardless if it is electronic or traditional formats.

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