Friday, October 11, 2013

New life for weeded books

At Baltimore County Public Library, decommissioned books have a second chance at life through a partnership with CollectionHQ and BetterWorld Books. The partnership was showcased during an ALA Booklist webinar, What Not to Weed: Best Practices in Weeding Library Collections.

BetterWorld Books donation bin: "Drop books here."
Image source: ALA Booklist webinar
Collection HQ is collection managment software. Brendan Pearce, business development manager, explained that CollectionHQ is built around Evidence Based Stock Management. It tracks use of items and streamlines the weeding process by generating “action plans.”

The plans identify items that are “dead” -- items that have not circulated -- and items that are “grubby” based upon defined parameters. A “dead” item at one location can be transferred to replace a “grubby” item at another library.

BetterWorld Books helps libraries sell discarded or donated books in online marketplaces according to Vice President Chris Johnson. Books that cannot be sold are donated and books that cannot be donated are recycled. “Nothing is thrown away.”

Baltimore Public Library was faced by limited shelf space, inconsistent weeding processes and limited staff time. Collection Development Coordinator Jamie Watson said the library turned to CollectionHQ to more consistently weed its collection. It turned to BetterWorld Books to more efficiently sell or dispose of weeded items.

Baltimore County Public Library made $90,000 from BetterWorld Books sales in 2011. The final total for 2012 was $120,000.

Among other highlights of the webinar:

  • Rebecca Vnuk, reference and collection management editor with ALA Booklist, suggested ways that libraries can avoid weeding “horror stories”
  • Nancy Kerr, manager of the Valencia branch of Santa Clarita Public Library in Valencia, Calif., suggested questions that library staff should consider when beginning a weeding project and
  • Lindsey Dorfman, director of youth services at Lisle Library District in Illinois, discussed the weeding of several hundred “kits,” children’s books packaged in hanging bags with toys and audio-visual materials.

ALA Booklist promotes upcoming webinars and highlights archived events at

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