Our library is navigating its first major weeding project in decades. After years of a no-weeding policy, the library is now weeding most of its print collection. We would like to present our road so far as a mix of guidance, considerations, and cautionary tale.
Our first challenge was deciding what to keep. Our initial guidelines were vague: keep anything older than 1917, locally relevant, or “of particular interest to faculty or staff.” We had extensive discussions to clarify these criteria and establish others, such as circulation history and electronic access.
The next hurdle was to establish a procedure. While we were encouraged to physically evaluate each item by hand, this did not match our time constraints. Instead, we utilized reports from our ILS to sort monographs into three categories: “Keep,” “Weed,” and “Investigate.” Our serials librarian created a system to determine electronic overlap in serials.
Another difficulty emerged in allocating staff time and energy. With such a physical project, it was essential to consider the well-being of our staff as well as the time and energy pulled from other duties. We continue to work toward a balance that is fair to our paraprofessionals, student workers and librarians.
We have also been navigating best practices for discarded items. We are currently working with a local recycling company, but are researching other options in case funds or logistics require a change. We have a long road ahead, but would love to share our experiences with others so that they can better navigate their own path.
Michelle Bowers– Catalog Librarian, Preston Smith Library - Texas Tech Health Science Ctr