Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Shelf Worthy

I just finished a big weed project at a site. This site has gone through two circulation conversions in the last ten years. As I went through the decisions of what stays and what goes, I came to this conclusion: why do we spend time and money barcoding items that shouldn’t even be in the collection at all? Why do they transfer from one program to the next?

I know that in our district, we went from one system to the other so quickly, that it was hard to keep up. In many cases we didn’t have staffing or time to weed before we added all records. But if we are physically putting barcodes on a book or material that no longer has value to our collection, shouldn’t we just delete it then and there?

The same applies to materials we are given. If someone donates a book or material to the library, we should evaluate it before taking the time and energy to add it to our collection.

• Does it add value to the collection?
• Does it meet the needs of the curriculum?
• Is it grade level appropriate for our students?
• Will teachers and students use it?
• Is it more appropriate for a home library than a school library?
• If it was already on our shelf, would we weed it?
• Is the information current?
• Does it have mold or a smell? (straight to a plastic bag please)
• Do we already have a newer edition?

So before, you add a barcode to something, take just a second longer and ask yourself: Is this shelf worthy? If not, discard it or recycle it. You can also use some of the donations for a book sale. Collect these books all year long and sort them into boxes marked 25 cents, 50 cents or 1.00. At the end of the year, have a two day sale. Sell the books at half price on the second day.

Use other donated books as giveaways to your student helpers or as prizes for students who bring their books back. Most secondary schools have a spot near the front door for free books. Good idea! We all love free.

In short, even in tight times, it is better to have no information than misinformation. Discard books with misinformation. Delete worn materials. Free up space in your video or CDROM collection for newer materials. Point your patrons in the direction of digital databases. You are still the “keeper” of the information, just be sure it’s worth keeping.

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