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Library students help weed out collections at local libraries
Library students help weed out collections at local librariesFebruary 09, 2009Margaret Costello Spillettmcostell@syr.edu
Syracuse University students in the “Library Planning, Marketing and Assessment” (IST 613) course tried out their skills at weeding the collections at two local libraries recently.
Half of the class headed to Moon Library on the SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry campus to review its collection, and the other half reviewed the children’s non-fiction collection at Petit Branch Library in Syracuse. They worked with the library staff at the two sites and suggested books to be removed from the collection.
“Basically, the students are applying what they’re learning about when to ‘de-select’ library resources from a collection by looking at actual collections and deciding what they would remove if they were the librarians,” says SU School of Information Studies assistant professor Megan Oakleaf, who teaches the course.
The students based their decisions on a set of criteria that examined such factors as use and circulation statistics, as well as the condition, age, currency, relevancy and appeal of the materials. Students used a worksheet to note the title and check off any undesirable characteristics of each book. The checks were then tallied and a decision was made whether to keep or weed the materials. Students were encouraged to use their best judgment and to consider the libraries’ missions and collections policies in their decisions.
Librarians at both libraries will be reviewing the students’ evaluations of the books and deciding individually how they will use the recommendations.
“We enjoyed having the students here, and if it’s helpful to us, that’s all the better,” says Betsy Elkins, director of Moon Library. Once books are weeded, the library has several options for handling them. Elkins says that some of the books go to branch schools; some are donated to Better World Books, an organization that collects books for sale or donation to aid charities in the United States and in developing countries; and some are placed on the “recycled reading shelf” in Moon for patrons to take. Whatever is left goes to the recycling center.