Monday, April 9, 2018

Crash Course in Weeding Library Collections

Adcock, Chris

Goldsmith, F. (2016). Crash course in weeding library collections (Crash course series (Westport, Conn.)).

Crash course in weeding library collections is divided into 8 chapters with sequential and information-dense titles: Introduction to Weed Identification;  The Weeding Process; Library Staff Weeding Responsibilities; Determining Datedness; Creating a Weeding Plan; Weeding as Library Policy; Communication and Publicity about  Weeding, and Models and Tips for Library Administrators.

The chapter that really drew me in the most as a library student was "Introduction to Weed Identification." I think that this is probably the most difficult part of weeding - how can you tell the weeds from useful resources? This becomes very difficult in collections of more than a thousand records where even when weeds are easily identifiable once encountered there are so many items to consider that they become drowned out. A good way to systematize weed identification is a handy acronym used by Goldsmith called "MUSTIE:"
Misleading (dated)
Ugly (in poor condition)
Suspended (No Longer Current)
Trivial (Poor Quality Content)
Irrelevant (Out of Scope for this Library's Community
Elsewhere (would be a better place for this material, including potentially a different and more suitable collection).

In addition to judging collections buy this criteria, weeding becomes additionally complex when one looks at the relationship of the collections to the community which they serve. An extreme example of this would be an advanced scientific paper search engine in a small rural library. The item might be extremely up to date and useful, but not necessarily for the community it is serving. Weeding should also be made as transparent as possible: library patrons should know that weeding is not done to water down/censor collections or reflect the individual tastes of librarians. It is done to remove irrelevant, damaged or out of date material and increase the findability of higher quality resources.

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