Common Questions About Weeding
Q: What is "weeding?"
A: Weeding is the deselection of books, journals, or other such items from a library's collection. This process takes place at all libraries on a regular basis. If libraries did not "weed" materials then collections would quickly outgrow buildings.
Q: Why would a library discard timeless, valuable classics?
A: It is a librarian’s job to not only build a collection but to maintain it as well. The needs of the user (faculty and students) population changes over time. Many of the books that are tagged as “Withdrawal Candidates” often have not been touched in 30 or 40 years. In some cases they have never been checked out. This is a good indication that these titles don’t fit the needs of our users. In some cases these books may be second copies, unpopular editions of a work, etc. This is why we need to look at them! At the same time we will examine a list of “Preservation Candidates.” If we find that these titles are actually preservation worthy due to rarity then we will take measures to secure these titles to mitigate any further damage due to handling, exposure to elements, etc.
Q: The library said that it is throwing away print books and replacing with ebooks,
A: The library has not considered this option. Yes, we add ebooks all the time. We also continue to add print books. At this stage we add both. Since print storage space is more precious than e storage space we have to make sure that we position the stacks for continued growth of collections that fit current curriculum and needs.
Q: You said that you were only looking at books that never circulated in my section; however, I see that the book has been stamped in the past which clearly indicates it has been checked out.
A: Yes, some of the books we indicated as “never checked out” were actually circulated. Our data can only go back as far as the Notis system which predates our current Voyager system. This means that it is possible that a book that has not circulated prior to the mid-1980s will appear on our list. Still a title that has not circulated in 30 or 40 years deserves examination.
Q: Why are there so many books that have not been looked at in decades?
A: There can be any number of reasons. It could be that some of these items were never destined for greatness. Could be that faculty interests and curriculum needs have changed over the years. There is no one answer.
Q: There are lots of books with yellow “Withdrawal Candidate” flags. Are you going to remove all of these books?
A: The answer is certainly not. Remember these are “candidates” so once reviewed by campus faculty and librarians many will be returned to their home in the stacks.
Q: How can I make sure we are using books?
A: For the academic library print book use is driven by assignments. We encourage teaching faculty to create assignments that require the use of books. The fact is that print book circulation nationally has dropped from year to year. This means that libraries slow down purchasing print books and publishers hurt because libraries can’t or won’t buy as many books as in the past.
Q: People don’t like ebooks!
A: While some people are resistant to ebooks this statement is not accurate. The sale of ebooks has taken off in the past couple of years, much of this due to improved ereaders and the advent of the iPad.