In the plan for the big move to our new building, we have been told a number of things which contradict each other:

As opposed to the usual plan of opening a new branch with a new or almost entirely new collection, the collection in our new building will be composed of 50% new materials and 50% old materials (i.e. – stuff that is in our current building).  This is more than understandable, given our current economic woes.

In order to whittle down our current collection, we should now be weeding more aggressively.

To that end, we should be getting rid of any materials that are in poor condition,

AND,

we should get rid of any materials that have circulated less than 10 times.

You see my problem, right?  If I weed my young adult collection using both of those criteria, I would probably end up weeding about 95% of my collection.  Because approximately 95% of my books that have circulated at least 10 times ARE in poor condition!  And then, of course, I have lots of books in my collection that were published within the last two years.  If they’re recent acquisitions, then they probably haven’t gone out that many times yet, which would make them candidates for weeding under the “less than 10 circs” rule.

*sigh*

I understand the need for weeding — really, I do!  I am absolutely NOT one of those weeding-phobic or weeding-reluctant librarians.  I just get frustrated with blanket rules like these, because they ignore the idea that perhaps a librarian who spent years working in libraries and who went through all the time, trouble, and heartache of earning a master’s degree in library science MIGHT BE ABLE TO MAKE EDUCATED DECISIONS ABOUT WEEDING.

One of those “blanket rules” that just kills me is the “weed anything that hasn’t circulated in one year” rule.  Yes, I will agree, if you pulled every book that fell in that category off of your shelves, you could probably get rid of the majority of them with no problem.  But what makes me MENTAL are people who assume that nobody should bother to take the time to give those books a once-over before they are discarded or sold.  A previous supervisor of mine at another branch of my library system was one of those people.  To add insult to injury, he would not even bother to perform this task himself; he assigned the pages (high school students who worked at the library part-time) to pull all of the books off of the shelves, scan each one to determine the last circulation date, and then delete every one that had not circulated within a year.  I had to go behind his back multiple times to rescue books that should not have been deleted — okay, maybe our hardcover edition of Sounder hadn’t circulated for 13 months, but that didn’t mean we should just THROW IT OUT!

Same deal with books that are used for class presentations, books that are used for school assignments, books that are frequently used in the library, etc.  Mr. Atoz nearly had an aneurysm a few weeks ago when he saw copies of The Book of Mormon and the Bible on a weeding list that was generated from that “no circs in one year” rule!  And while I was weeding my biographies last month I noticed that about 9 out of 10 of our YA biographies had not circulated in over a year.  I can make some educated guesses as to why this is the case, with the increased popularity of biographical information available online being at the top of that list.  But if I followed this rule, I would end up weeding 9 out of 10 books in my biography section … and if I also followed these new “aggressive weeding” rules, that could go up to 10 out of 10.

There is a reason that libraries are supposed to have librarians in them.  It’s so that we can make educated decisions about our collections and our patrons, and so that we can defend them when necessary.

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