Saturday, June 29, 2013

Weeding in libraries: It’s best to have a policy

In a post at Nitty Gritty Gal, Regina Powers explains what happens when weeding goes bad. For a short time, Powers worked for a library manager who underwent what Powers called Get-Rid-Of-It-Syndrome.
“She actually admitted to staff that she intended to ‘cut the library’s collection by half.’ She didn’t say why she wanted to do this. And, because my library system did not have a COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT POLICY in place for her to follow (and still doesn’t), she set upon discarding material like she was a criminal burning evidence before the cops arrived at the crime scene.
“In addition to books, CDs, DVDs, she also threw away equipment, like copiers, shelves, storage equipment, and more. She even took the liberty of going through my desk drawers and throwing away whatever she could get her hands on in there, including a beloved tiara, which I would wear for Prince & Princess Storytimes!”
Powers’ point is that that librarians who don’t follow policies or don’t appear to follow policies, make all librarians look bad. “The modern misperception held by too many people is that libraries can run themselves. Pro Librarians can’t afford looking bad right now!”

I agree that indiscriminate weeding can make a bad impression against the vital role of librarians in shaping library collections.

What’s especially troubling is that collection development and weeding “best practices” can readily be found online and customized for a particular library (Powers’s post links to a previous essay about collection development policies; in it, she identifies key components of collection development policies and curates links to resources).

One of my most informative exercises while studying Library and Information Technology was creating a collection development policy for a small church lending library. I made use of just such online resources when crafting the policy.

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