To weed or not to weed; Indeed, a challenging question!

In springtime, our yards get much needed attention before the growing season commences. We prune vines, trees, and hedges and get rid of pesky dandelions and morning glory or bindweed. These growing organisms need that annual attention to thrive and grow beautifully to their potential. If you think your library is not a “growing organism,” you need a talk with Ranganathan.

In this age of electronic books, journals, and resources, libraries’ print resources have become a subject of debate. Space is always at a premium in libraries. Access and delivery are important considerations. But do librarians jump at the first opportunity to de-select? During my work at the BYU library, I became a subject selector for one of the schools at the university.  I selected materials according to faculty and student needs and their curriculum. At the same time, I paid attention to the de-selection of aging titles of low or no use. With the help of the Symphony ILS system, I identified these unwanted materials, generated paper lists, and began the weeding process. As you begin your own de-selection process, you can focus on the publication year of the title, last activity date, and circulation count. As you dig deeper into this activity, you can consider physical conditions and attributes together with subject parameters. Once you’ve produced your data-driven list of candidate titles, then comes the dreadful inspection of the items—one book at a time.

At ACRL last week, I noticed that a lot of the tweets from the conference concerned weeding. A session on de-selection caught my eye, and as I listened to the presenters, I learned of their pains and process in identifying their de-selection candidates. I also learned about the concept of a “disapproval plan” as suggested by my good friend Rick Lugg from R2 Consulting. A disapproval plan should be as automatic as a library’s approval plan; like the approval plan, the disapproval plan controls the flow of materials in the library. Over time, your plans can be monitored, tweaked, and refined to give your library a balanced and viable collection.

To assist libraries with weeding, de-selection, or disapproval plans, SirsiDynix is developing BLUEcloud MobileCirc. MobileCirc is a mobile circulation, shelving, and inventory app with a powerful de-selection feature. Since MobileCirc is available for smartphones, tablets, and laptops, you can take it with you into your stacks for weeding. You can set de-selection parameters by library, collection, call number range, last activity or “dusty date,” and circulation count. With one touch of a button, MobileCirc automatically generates a de-selection list on your tablet or mobile device (saving our trees!). After individual inspection, the material can be marked for discard or, you’re confident that the titles generated are true candidates for discarding, you can just check them all with a touch of a button and send them to discard. Too easy? Well, that’s always been a part of SirsiDynix’s mission – to deliver technology solutions that enable libraries to better serve their community.

So the next time you walk up and down your stacks, ask yourself these questions: is this item ever going to be checked out? Will it support scholarly research? If it hasn’t been used for 10 years, what are the real chances someone will use it? Is there a newer or maybe better substitute for this material? Develop a strong mindset of “need it, or weed it!” and your library will continue to thrive and grow beautifully in your own campus or community.


Ranny Lacanienta
Director of Product Strategy