Apply and increase collection maintenance skills through a weeding project.
After reviewing which sections of the Ballard Branch collection were due for intensive weeding, Hannah and I decided I would focus my project on the Mysteries collection. A visit to the section before I started weeding showed that the shelves were overcrowded, making them difficult for patrons to browse and for the Library Associates to shelve books. The goal at SPL is to keep shelves no more than two-thirds full with a quality collection.
- poor condition: stains, tears, broken spines, discoloration, marked pages, odor, water damage
- low circulation/"dusty shelf": books that have not circulated in a year or more
- obsolete tags: outdated RFID tags, which would need to be replaced if an item is deemed worthy to be kept in the collection
Every time I finished examining a batch of books, Hannah and I reviewed my recommended candidates for weeding, and she would get the final say on what to do with those borderline acceptable/unacceptable items. Books that were still in good condition and good standing were placed back on the shelf right away, books that had holds on them were placed in transit bins, books that needed to be cleaned or mended were flagged under "collection maintenance", and books to be withdrawn were deleted from the catalog and boxed (many will make their way to the Friends of the Library book sales).
When this was my primary focus in April, I spent about 2 hours of my 5-hour shifts working on the weeding project. In May, when I prioritized other learning objectives, I spent less time on weeding.
Some Stats:This is my progress as of 5/30/13.
- 6 marked for washing
- 16 marked for mending
- 173 withdrawn/deleted
Due date reminder slips, receipt, grocery list, paper clips, medical records (patron contacted), a hair comb.
I had completed a large weeding project before when I weeded the Culinary Arts collection at Seattle Central Community College, but I still had a lot to learn from the Mysteries weeding project at Ballard Branch. I attribute this to the different collection maintenance policies and priorities of a community college and a public library. With my project at SCCC, I had to consider how the collection supported the Culinary Academy's curriculum, while at the Ballard Branch I was most concerned with condition and obsolete tags. There was also the difference of weeding non-fiction culinary books and weeding fictional mysteries. It could be harmful if, say, an out-of-date food safety book stayed in SCCC's Culinary Arts collection, but it would be harmless of a mystery novel originally published in 1976 remained in Ballard's collection.
Weeding at Ballard Branch further developed my collection maintenance skills, which will be very valuable in my future jobs as a librarian. Hannah commented that I have a natural instinct and good judgment in making weeding decisions. Some of those decisions were easy ones. Hannah shared her rule of thumb: If we would feel embarrassed to hand a book to a patron based on its condition, we want it out. I developed my own similar rule of thumb: If a book makes me cringe, it needs to go. (The title of this blog post refers to this Cringe Test; I was surprised at how many books I weeded because they smelled strongly of cigarette smoke. Most books that were cringe-worthy were heavily stained with coffee, Cheetos powder, newspaper ink, and other sources I'd rather not think too much about.) Other weeding decisions required more careful consideration of the other factors of circulation and tags.
I also had a lot of fun weeding the Mysteries collection as I became more familiar with the range of mystery styles, e.g. Cozy, Suspense, Police Procedural, and I must say that it was satisfying to see the shelves looking fresh and inviting.