A Process for Weeding Page 2
5. Read the shelves. The next step in the process is to read the shelves of the section to be weeded. Put the materials in order and check off materials that are either checked out or missing on the shelf list. Items in circulation should be tagged to be checked when they come back in. A search should be made for other items.
6. Look at the section as a whole and then item by item. At this point, evaluate the appearance of the collection as a whole. Does the collection look relatively new or is it dull and dingy in appearance? Make a note about the general appearance of the collection, as part of your collection assessment process. Then examine each item one at a time. As you do this, you are simply looking to see if the item should be considered for weeding according to the age of the item, the last time it circulated, and the condition of the item. To check the last date circulated, look at the check-out slip in the book or, if your circulation system does not use this method, a print-out of the dates of circulation.
Try to do relatively small sections at a time, stopping at logical breaks within the classification system for breaks. When you stop, mark the place with the shelf marker and stand the catalog card up or mark the place in the printout of the shelf-list.
Items within the classification section that are in circulation at the time of the weeding should be placed on a special book cart when they are returned, and thus can be examined like all other materials.
7. Check for availability elsewhere. Once you have collected a number of items that may be weeded, check these items against any centralized databases to see if the items are easily available from other libraries in your area or state. Here is where professional judgments begin. If an item meets the criteria for weeding, but is not available anywhere else, the library may decide to keep it if it is believed that the item has long-term value.
8. Check the pulled books against standard indexes. The next step in the process is to check the pulled books against the standard lists which you are using to evaluate the lasting quality of items in the collection. If the item is listed in the standard lists, and if it is in good shape, it normally would be returned to the shelves. If the item is not in the standard list, it normally would be disposed of. If the item is listed in the standardized list, but is in poor condition, the librarian needs to judge whether the item should be replaced, rebound, or disposed of, depending on such factors as the availability of other resources in the subject area and general interest in the subject area.
9. Dispose of items according to the professional judgments made. We will discuss this more in the last section of the course. For the time being, some methods for disposing of materials include: sending them to the bindery or mending, sending them to another library, offering them in a library book sale, recycling, or discarding them.
10. Pulling the items' catalog records. Once it has been decided to remove items from the collection, all records of the items need to be removed from the shelf-list and catalogs. This is tedious process if you still have a card catalog, but it can be completed quite quickly with a few keystrokes if your library catalog is automated. Failure to remove these records immediately creates "catalog ghosts," records for items that are no longer available, and such ghosts can create disappointment for the library's users.
11. Perform follow-up procedures. In some cases, books will need to be replaced or other procedures need to be completed to follow up the weeding process. If books need to be replaced with new titles, use the techniques discussed in Course 3 of this Collection Development Sequence: Materials Selection. In other cases, the library may decide to do a display of high quality, low circulating materials to help increase circulation of these items. Such decisions can be made as you go through the weeding process.
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