Tuesday, March 8, 2016

To Weed or Not to Weed…

Much as a good garden may have some weeds, a good library may have some weeds as well. So let’s take a second to chat a little about the ‘anti-acquisition’ – otherwise known as the ‘weed.’ 

Susannah Tredwell wrote today about this very topic, offering readers a host of typical questions asked when weeding a collection, ranging from simpler questions such as “Do we own anything more current on the subject?” to more difficult questions that attempt to determine the value of the older book.  Tredwell reminds readers that even in a law library, “a book can still be valuable even if the information that it contains is no longer current.” The law field is a field where incorrect materials can be fraught with danger to the professionals who depend on them in court, but Tredwell makes some wonderful points about ways older, even incorrect materials can still be of value to patrons.

These points reminded me of an engaging post I had read last week by Jeffrey Meyer, recounting his experience with a particular patron at the public library. This patron was challenging the decision to keep a particular book about climate change, which they claimed was riddled with half-truths and propaganda, in the collection. Meyer reminds us that the library is not the fact police, and that “the Fact Police are as dangerous as the Morality Police. If we start removing materials because they are “factually inaccurate,” we will embark on a twisted Soviet-style purge of our treasured collections. Thanks, Jeffrey. I couldn't have said it better myself.

But before you think I'm an anti-weeding kind of gal, let me point you to one more resource that promises to remind you that hoarding is not the same as collection development. Awfullibrarybooks.net is a site run by Mary Kelly and Holly Hibner, public librarians in Michigan.  They state that their site is “a collection of library holdings that we find amusing and maybe questionable for libraries trying to maintain a current and relevant collection.”  And amusing they are... One of my favorites is My Beautiful Mommy, in which Mommy picks her child up from school to take her along on a trip to the plastic surgeon.  

Want a little more information on weeding or all things acquisitions?  Karen Muller recently offered her list of essential resources for understanding acquisitions in libraries, including Rebecca Vnuk’s The Weeding Handbook: A Shelf-by-Shelf Guide.

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