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"These are the times that try librarians' souls" Topic

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561 hits since 11 Feb 2016
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Personal logo Waco Joe Supporting Member of TMP11 Feb 2016 10:55 a.m. PST

I have been working in libraries for 34 years, the last 24 of them at a small rural community college. Last year we got a new president who is very much on board with a project I have been pursuing for a couple of years. Essentially we would expand our library to two floors by taking over the downstairs, currently holding a lecture hall and our continuing ed. department. At the same time we are expanding space we will reduce the size of our print collections, creating more space for collaborative learning and a makerspace and finally being able to set up a quiet zone (the downstairs) for students who need to study.

Now for the trying part, reducing the collection, or de-selection in library parlance. Some areas are easy. Anything that has the word contemporary in the title and is more than 10 years old is a prime candidate. Some areas we don't even teach anymore such as French and German. The bound journals though are hard to let go of. I know that almost all of it is available through our subscription databases but it still pains me to put the pink slip of doom on that lovely little 15 year run of the Saturday Evening Post. Trimming the history collection is especially difficult since even bad history can still be worthwhile.

But I just keep telling myself, we are not a research institution, nor are we subject area archives. We are best described as a teaching lab for research. And most of the books are being grabbed by instructors in their respective areas so they are going to good homes. Even the dregs have been spoken for by our resident art instructor who uses the covers for water color paint canvas.

So everyone once in a while I get up out of my office and like the scene in Life of Brian, ring for the dead to be put on the burial bookcart. A little sad, but then I remember that I will have a nice quality 3d printer and laser cutter within 50 feet and I feel muuuuuch better.

Such is the bibliographic circle of life.

Parzival11 Feb 2016 11:09 a.m. PST

In my library, we call it "weeding." We've recently gone through the process of weeding in the Teen Department (my area). I admit it's tough to pull the occasional classic (though I know they're available elsewhere in the system), but I get a laugh from some of our clearly-from-the-'80s titles with cheeseball Sunday-School cover art and "Afternoon School Special" issue topics. I've fought to keep some books (classic adventure and Sci-Fi, like The Riddle of the Sands and the Tripods quartet). But cheesy no-longer-contemporary "contemporary" stuff-- dead, for a ducat!

kallman11 Feb 2016 12:17 p.m. PST

The other term is to deaccession the collection. I manage the Dallas Public Library Government Information section at the central downtown branch. Mine is one of eight floors. My floor also houses one of the few public library Federal Depository collections going back 100 years. As with many things that are going on in the library world we have to adjust and respond to new paradigms and now I have been given the green light to do a huge deaccession, weeding, culling whatever word you want to use of a collection that has not had any of that done in well over thirty years. It will be a monster task and yes it is hard. But as our direct has clearly stated we are not a museum and we are not archive. We really are not longer a research library. Of course with the Federal depository materials there is a long process where the materials have to be first offered before they are discarded. And yes they MUST be discarded if no other Federal Depository wants the materials. It is one of those strange rules that comes with that territory. Technically the library does not own the Federal documents. We have things that are well over one hundred years old especially in terms of patent gazettes, congressional hearings and all kinds of census data. We also have documents from the War Department from WWI and WW II that are just cool to look over. Ah well my task is set and I fully understand how you feel Waco.

Tacitus11 Feb 2016 1:33 p.m. PST

We turned our high school library into a "Learning Commons". Got rid of 75% (yes, you read that right) of the books. I don't even use our library that much and was still choked up to see the books being pulled.

boy wundyr x Inactive Member11 Feb 2016 4:31 p.m. PST

I suppose though one has to hope that somewhere is the museum or archive to hold onto things. Canada recently lost seven of eleven federal fisheries libraries, and while stuff was digitized and there was duplication, it happened so haphazardly, no one's sure what got lost when shelves were emptied into dumpsters. Other libraries got similar treatment, possibly with less oversight.

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2016 2:25 p.m. PST

Heart breaking.

Old Wolfman19 Feb 2016 7:40 a.m. PST


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