Books go out of fashion. (A number of management books that are immensely popular for a couple of years or so, and then the library is stuck with them because nobody wants to borrow them) They get outdated (Microsoft Excel 2000 Bible, I am looking at you here.) They end up looking ragged because they’re too popular, or get bad treatment from the patrons – in which case a new copy will be acquired… if the funds are there and if it is deemed relevant.
For my personal library, there are those books I bought because I was bored, and which were fine to relieve boredom for half an hour or so. Or because they looked interesting, and as later turned out, they weren’t.
I have been party to quite a few of these collection management weeding arrangements. For the most parts, it is quite interesting. You end up with a lot of laughs – the book for Internet Sceptics from the 1990s, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus – in a technical library, and the covers of almost every American management book from the 80s and 90s. (Was it mandatory to have a guy on the outside who looked too cheesy and slightly dubious?)
It always help to have criteria to make the decisions. When I did it at home, it was simple. Then the question was:
Do I want to read this again?
If the answer was yes, it went into the shelf. If it was no – it went into a bag for my sisters.
At work, it gets more complicated. One usual factor is how many times an item has been checked out. Or the age and edition of the book. However, due to the nature of some scientific fields of study, old is still as good, or better than new. And there is also a number of other factors that must be considered.
It isn’t an easy process – you don’t want to take too much out of the collection, yet at the same time – it has to happen.
Thankfully, I’m almost done with the process for this year now.
A year until next time.