Let me back up a bit and explain.
I help out 2x a month at my son's elementary school library. We are very lucky to have a MLIS librarian on staff and she is very good, but she is also very busy. One of the ways I help is with some basic cataloging and collection development, most notably, to help with weeding.
Recently, she had a volunteer go through a few Dewey areas and pull things that "looked old." She then asked me to go through the cart and look at everything more closely. While I was starting on this project today, the library assistant asked what she thought was a very easy question, but all of you will know that it is not:
How do you know what to weed?
Well that opens a whole can of worms, doesn't it?
Weeding is a complicated library topic, but it is also an essential duty. I have posted about this many times. You can pull up all of those posts with this link.
Weeding is hard but necessary. It is a huge part of your collection development; just as important, in fact, as your new purchases. Also, as I said in a post back in 2010:
Weeding is a customer service. Having your shelves neat, in order, and as efficient and effective as possible, helps users. They should not have to, for example, wade through 10 out of date biographies to find the 2 that are the best and most respected. They should be able to come into the library knowing that the collection in front of them (or at least the catalog is the book is checked out) represents the most current and best received materials of general interest. That is, considering population size, budget and spacing. But this is why libraries hire professionally trained librarians instead of just general book lovers.And this all brings me back to the Corner Shelf. [Admit it, you thought I forgot.]
In the most recent issue, Erin Downey Howerton, the Children’s Manager at Wichita Public Library and a Booklist Advisory Board member, shared her very practical advice on how to best weed a children's collection. From the article:
Lots of popular weeding guides give detailed information about how to maintain a library collection. Although general advice is always useful applied to diverse collections, sometimes you need to think about collections for youth a different way. When my friends at the Northeast Kansas Library System told me that they were designing lunch-hour-sized webinars for their libraries to learn about different topics, I suggested the topic of “Weeding Youth Collections.” Here are some of the suggestions we shared during this continuing-education opportunity.Click here for the rest of the article. But because I had read it last night, I was able to talk to the library assistant about some of the specifics about weeding a youth collection and I sounded super knowledgeable. Thanks Booklist, Rebecca, and Erin!
Spring is a great time to think about cleaning out your "MUSTIE" collections too, and Erin's article is a great place to start getting inspired to take action.