Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Weeding important part of library maintenance

Weeding is an important part of a library’s collection management. As the needs of library users change, as our understanding of the world evolves, a library’s collection must stay current and up-to-date.

In the words of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission’s CREW: A Weeding Manual for Modern Libraries, “A section of astronomy books that include many pre-Hubble space exploration books or that include Pluto as a planet create a credibility gap of astronomical dimensions!”

This next observation is particularly relevant for school library media center collections: “Nothing will discourage a student as much as writing a paper based on research performed with library materials that provided obsolete or erroneous information. The public counts on the library providing accurate information. Patrons quickly decide that the library has ‘nothing’ of value if they sort through a lot of outdated material.”

A library collection can, if un-checked, outgrow its physical space.

When I shelved books and pulled “holds” at a public library that had grown too small for its community, books were stacked on top and alongside the shelves in every feasible space. It was difficult to locate materials that were hidden behind stacks of other books.

Fortunately the library’s collection was moved to a larger facility, but it took several years to locate a site and build a new branch library. In the meantime, finding space was a puzzle to solve, and I derived tremendous satisfaction placing one more book on the shelf.

But even when physical space is taken care of, a library must stay current. In Where Do I Start? A School Library Media Handbook, the Santa Clara County Office of Education, Learning Multimedia Center identifies several considerations when choosing school library materials, including an understanding of its “customers,” the curriculum and mission.

With all the care and consideration that went to purchasing new materials, it would be a shame if these new books and media were “lost” among items that were less relevant or were in formats that have become obsolete.

Composed for Cuesta College’s LIBT 210, School Library/Media Center Services

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