Over the past four years, the LLC has been hard at work systematically removing outdated and unused materials from our collection, a process called weeding. Dr. George Griffith, the recently retired, longtime CSC English Professor with a wonderful way with words, preferred to call it “Gardening.” When done properly, weeding/gardening allows a library to cultivate a collection that is relevant and well-suited to their patrons’ needs.
We have been weeding the library’s print collection for the last four years, and we are almost finished. The library hadn’t been weeded in earnest in 20-30 years, so it was an extensive project. Since we began weeding in July 2013, 79,341 titles (approximately 60%), have been removed from the collection. We could not have completed the seemingly overwhelming task without your help; faculty, staff, graduate assistants, student workers, and administration all were instrumental in the process.
The LLC is well aware that removing books from a collection can cause anxiety for book lovers, but don’t worry. These books were not removed willy nilly and thrown in the trash. Each librarian had well-defined criteria which directed the weeding process. Only books that had not been checked out in 20 years were eligible for weeding. Each title that was eligible to be removed was first checked in the collection standard Resources for College Libraries (RCL). All RCL-recommended titles were retained in the CSC collection. After RCL was consulted, the lists were sent to faculty for review. No title deemed essential was removed. After the faculty review, books were removed from the shelves and from the online catalog. They were then shipped to Better World Books to be sent to Third World countries as appropriate, sold (with the library receiving a percentage of sales), or recycled.
We are not done yet! There is one small section, the 970s – American History, that is being reviewed and weeded presently. This should be complete in the next month, and then we will move on to the next phase of shifting. As you can expect, removing 60% of the books from the upstairs has made for some unbalanced shelves. If you visit the upper level of the LLC, you may notice that some of the shelves have books crammed on them and others have 5 or 6 books. This summer, library staff and student workers will be rebalancing the shelves to make the numbers of books on each shelf roughly equal. We plan to leave the top and bottom shelves empty for further expansion (yes, we plan on adding more books to the collection) and we will adjust the shelves so that every book can stand up. If books are tipped on their fore-edge, the spines tend to break and the books don’t last as long.
We will also be creating a 4-6 year rotating weeding plan so that certain parts of the collection get weeded each year. This ensures that the entire library print collection is refreshed every 4-6 years. We will also continue to work with each Academic Department on campus to purchase new and essential titles in each area to support the curriculum and rebuild our collections.
Our “gardens” are fresh and new just in time for Spring. Come on over and see what we have ready to bloom.