Saturday, January 1, 2011

Reasons for Collection Weeding in Libraries

  • Weeding a library is like weeding a garden. The librarian looks over everything in her garden of books and chooses what will stay and what will have to go. As weeds are pulled from a garden one at a time to preserve the flowers, so individual books must be chosen for discard from the library.

  • Outdated and Inaccurate Books

  • Libraries must weed out the books that present inaccurate, out of date or superseded information. For instance, books that talk about how someday a man will walk on the moon would obviously be out of date and have no place in a library. Information changes quickly these days, so libraries must keep up with their weeding correspondingly so their patrons can know the information they acquire there can be trusted. In the same way, older books sometimes present racist and sexist points of view that a library's public might not wish to have propagated.

  • Lack of Shelf Space

  • Every library, whether large or small, has limited shelf space and must clear out books to create room for new ones. No library can keep everything, and the process of weeding allows librarians to make wise choices about the future of the collection.

  • Old Books

  • Books get old. They get torn and mangled, and their covers become loose. People do indeed judge books by their covers, and if those covers are worn and dirty, the patrons are likely to pass them over. Wedding a collection lets librarians remove books that can't be successfully circulated any longer because they're not appealing to patrons, and makes it easier for patrons to find books that do appeal to them.

  • Duplicate Books

  • Libraries often acquire multiple copies of books when they are first released, and need them all to meet the requests of patrons. However, as books age, they become less popular, and fewer copies of any given title are needed on a library's shelves.

  • Low Circulation

  • Some books sit on a library's shelves for years without being checked out. While a book shouldn't necessarily be weeded solely because of low circulation, it's certainly a factor that can help librarians choose which books to weed.

  • Ease of Access

  • An unweeded collection of books is apt to be crowded and filled with shabby, unused books, making the library difficult to use. Once the collection is weeded, patrons have an easier time finding the books they want and discovering books they didn't know they'd be interested in.

  • Relevance to the Collection

  • Some libraries, such as public libraries, endeavor to provide books for a wide population. Other libraries are able to narrow their collections to reach a smaller, more select audience. For instance, school libraries focus on books that are age-appropriate for the school's students. This provides them with criteria for weeding, removing books that aren't appropriate because curriculums have changed, because the material is too adult, or because students' interests have shifted since the book was first published
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