Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Bookcharmer and her library approach weeding with the utmost care.

Greetings! This post is one that has been bubbling in the back of the Bookcharmer's mind, but I've put the writing feature of my brain on fast forward since the topic came up in a meeting yesterday. The topic: weeding, as in book collections.

Weeding is the librarian term for deselecting books that are no longer relevant or needed in the collection. If you are a library at a Research One institution, weeding likely isn't something you do. But if you are in a library that is a working collection, one that is primarily focused on the current curriculum of your institution, then weeding is something you must do. Fortunately, in the collection of my library, our particular weeding task was focused on a specific type of weed: the duplicate.

Back In The Day, before photocopiers, scanners, and cell phones with cameras, academic libraries would buy multiple copies of frequently used books. And based on the condition of those books now, they were heavily used in their day. Examples to come. Since my library had an abundance of these, this is the type of weed we put into our librarian sights. How you ask? The marvels of technology, the dedication of our Access Services and Technical Services staff in maintaining our Integrated Library System, and a skilled project manager resulted in the creation of a list of titles that fit a specific set of criteria: a title that had duplicate copies that had not circulated in 10 years. Subject librarians were given these lists and off to the stacks we went to evaluate these items, as we had the final say if a title's duplicates should be removed.

I'll confess, this project thrilled me. Many times I had walked by titles that had fit just such criteria and cringed that they were taking up so much shelf space. (Hidden agenda: more room for art books!) But any task that gives me the opportunity to spend more time in the stacks, I'll take it! Some of my colleagues have been less happy about this entire project, and I respect them and their concerns. But my fears about a last copy of something significant are assuaged by the presence of the mighty Link+ as well as the UC system. And WorldCAT. And abebooks.

But whither the duplicates you are likely thinking? What of their fate? SJSU faculty, you are welcome to view these titles and if you find one(s) you want for your personal collection, you may take it. You need simply visit the Lower Level, where we will ask to see your faculty id, then lead you back to the compact shelving area where the duplicates are being stored.

Don't get too excited. We really are picking the low hanging fruit. For example, some years back, say, 1993, a young bookcharmer would have done cartwheels to have her very own copy of Sheehy's Guide to Reference Books. However, now that Sheehy's has become Balay's (library humor here, indulge me) and even Balay's is dated...the more mature bookcharmer did not bring one of the six copies of Sheehy's GtRB up to her lair. Here's the example I promised you of what has been designed a duplicate for weeding:

But wait, there's more!

See where I'm going with this? Now, if your book fever has been touched off by these examples, let me reassure that if you are in haste to see the contents of Audiovisual methods in teaching, published the very same year your Bookcharmer's feet began to rove the earth, you may hasten to the 7th floor of our library and find that one copy remains: remember, this is a duplicates weeding project. Same thing with Gaitskill's 2nd edition of Children and Their Art.

To belabor my point, it is necessary for a working collection (which ours is) to manage the stacks so that people can leverage browsing to locate relevant items. If your hand had rested on Gaitskill's Children and Their Art in the N350 range, you probably would have been in perusing distance of Developing artistic and perceptual awareness : art practice in the elementary classroom from 1985 and maybe also The art teacher's survival guide for elementary and middle schools from 2008. However, the stacks in the N ranges are particularly in need of some breathing space, so much so that when books are shelved tightly together from lack of space they a. get damaged (torn pages, broken bindings) and or b. get misshelved for lack of a place to put them.

Feeling better? Good. But before you go, it is time to talk about subject headings! Remember, we also must prepare ourselves for the Virtual Browse so that we are aware of what is not on the shelf because it is a. checked out or b. our library didn't puchase it. Our tools for the Virtual Browse: Library of Congress Subject Headings and Link+.

Let's start with the title Children and Their Art, click here to follow along: http://catalog.sjlibrary.org/record=b1403330~S1 Right away you notice the subject heading:

Art -- Study and teaching (Elementary)

The beauty of clicking on this subject heading is that it retrieves a list of sub-divided headings, and you know how I love those! Let's look:

The long red arrow highlights there are 82 titles under this broad heading. We're going to look at those in a second. The short arrow indicates a delightful subdivided heading: Art -- Study and teaching (Elementary) -- California -- Audio-visual aids -- Catalogs. This is just type of LCSH that delights the Bookcharmer, but I'll entertain myself with it later. Back to the matter at hand.

If I've lost you, the search we're on is:

subject=Art -- Study and teaching (Elementary)which contains 82 titles. Now, whe you are looking at this list, it can be sorted to be displayed by the most recent (reverse chronological). Let's do that by choosing Reverse Chronological from the System Sorted option box.

Ta Da! The first result I get is great: Deepening literacy learning : art and literature engagements in K-8 classrooms / by Mary Ann Reilly, Jane M. Gangi and Rob Cohen from 2010. Important to note: it shares the subject heading of Art--Study and Teaching (Elementary) but it is not shelved in the N ranges, it is shelved in the L ranges. Thus, even the value of the virtual browse once you know your LCSH for your local collection.

Ok, I'll try to calm down. I haven't even written about how you can use your known title in Link+ and search that consortia catalog the same way by clicking on the subject headings to see what is held regionally...I'll try to write that later. It's just that I've been thinking maybe it would be nice to have a copy of Sheehy's Guide to Reference Books, just for fun.

See you in the Lower Level! The Bookcharmer.

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