Ever since I started at my library I’ve been weeding. Every 6 months, in every department, a constant battle to make space on packed shelves for the influx of newer books. But, after recent conversations with other libraries–one small library, one large library–about their choice to “extreme weed,” their collections, I decided to give it a go.
When I began weeding at this library, over 3 years ago, I balked at the pull list, (based on circulation stats), at all the materials which hadn’t circulated in more than 3 years (my cut-off for weeding). But, as I began to weed I panicked at the thought of getting rid of over a third of my adult non-fiction section. Three years later, with the same findings, I’ve decided to extreme weed.
To be fair, it should be mentioned that we are part of a 90+ library consortium, so, though we’re a small library, we do have access to many collections outside of our own, a huge reason I felt confident in this decision. If I were at a small library who is not part of a consortium would I still consider an extreme weed? Heck yes! Space is a hot commodity in our buildings, and if something isn’t being used, well, you get the idea…
My 3 simple rules for extreme weeding:
- Anything that hasn’t circ’d in 3 years or more (or whatever your timeline is) goes
- Any topic/info that is out of date, i.e. a book about the planets from 2004 vs. one written in 2015, goes
- Duplicates, or more materials close enough to duplicate info. goes. Does our collection need both an Audubon’s Books of North America and a National Geographic one, if neither circulates much?
I began weeding our adult non-fiction last week and what is glaringly obvious is that the shelves went from packed-to-the-gills, to half full with one to two books displayed on the now open shelf space. It was scary at first, I mean, come on, what if we’re missing that one book from 1987 that no one ever checked out before, but need NOW!? But, no, so far the feedback has been positive, and we’ve already seen the books on display within the non-fic shelves getting checked out. Obviously only time will tell how successful this project will be, but I definitely don’t regret the extra space we’ve created!
P.S. I love the odd gems we’ve been finding and weeding. This was our favorite.
Amanda Bennett, Director
Ada Public Library