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Are you looking for a great way to help people find their way through your collections? Maybe you need to weed! Even though the prospect of weeding can make both staff and users uncomfortable, no library should overlook the value of well-considered pruning.

  • Does your library maintain a regular weeding schedule?
  • Have you wondered how to make weeding more politically acceptable?
  • Do you know where to turn for weeding guidance for various subjects and formats?
  • Would you like to stay ahead of the curve so that major weeding projects don't overwhelm you or your resources?

As long as library materials suffer physical damage, and as long as intellectual content changes to reflect new discoveries, laws, and customs, formerly useful library holdings will continue to become obsolete or even dangerous. In this workshop, you will become acquainted with tools that can help you weed regularly and intelligently. You will also learn how to discuss the benefits of and necessity for weeding with both your staff and your public.

Workshop Description: This all-day course will provide students with both conceptual and practical information about weeding library collections, including the political impact weeding may have on your community's view of the library. Through individual and group exercises, students will learn to prioritize weeding schedules to match their collections and staff resources, to budget so that regular replacements allow damaged material to be weeded without loss of intellectual content, and to articulate the weeding message effectively for your community. You will practice your new skills by completing a weeding plan for one part of your collection (either a subject area or a format collection). The instructor will provide sample plans, templates, cheat sheets, and a webliography, as well as practical, useful tips that can be applied immediately.

Pre-workshop assignment: Before the day of the class, please familiarize yourself with your library's current weeding plan. If there is a written weeding policy or public information about weeding posted at your library, please being samples of those documents with you to class for sharing. If no such documentation exists at your library, please list five truths about how weeding is handled at your library so that you can share this information during class discussion.

Preliminary Course Outline

  • The Need to Weed
    • Material and intellectual changes addressed by weeding
    • Space constraints and moving projects
    • Planning for change by examining use trends
    • Maintaining a healthy and useful collection
  • Budgeting Time and Costs
    • Budgeting staff time for weeding tasks
    • Budgeting materials funds for ongoing replacements
    • Budgeting special weeding projects
    • Using data to inform weeding budgets
  • Weeding as a Sacred Cow
    • Communicating about weeding with library staff
    • Educating the public about the need to weed
    • Proactive publicity
  • Making Weeding Part of Your Library's Life
    • Normalizing consistent and ongoing weeding
    • Publishing your weeding policy and practices
    • Training weeding staff

Workshop Instructor: Francisca Goldsmith