The Weeding Planner: Managing Massive Weeding Projects: e-Forum Summary

“The Weeding Planner: Managing Massive Weeding Projects” focused on two themes: big picture questions and the nuts and bolts of projects.

Day 1 concentrated on big picture questions. The forum began with a discussion of the motivation for massive weeding projects. Most respondents indicated that their projects were to clear space to create new areas for student use. Most projects were at the instigation of the libraries, but some were a result of long-term planning by university or school administration.

We considered the timelines and priorities of long- and short-term weeding projects and planned, ongoing weeding, including the parameters and timelines of the projects.

We discussed the number of people and departments involved with weeding projects (few to many) and how decisions and priorities were communicated. There was a consensus that communication among project members is crucial. Some handle communication informally while others use regular and ad hoc staff meetings to keep people informed.

Participants shared reactions to massive weeding projects from colleagues and library users. Reactions range from negative to neutral to positive. Some libraries take a preemptive approach by educating users in advance of the project about the philosophy and practice of weeding.

As a wrap up to day one, participants were prompted to think about evaluating massive weeding projects.

Day 2 focused on nuts and bolts questions. Participants shared criteria that guided massive weeding project efforts, with many mentioning the CREWS Weeding Manual for Public Libraries.

Discussion then moved on to weeding of electronic resources. Participants noted that subscription database vendors conducted their own weeding of materials.

The third discussion question focused on reflecting weeded materials in catalogs and the specifics of weeding workflow, from the removal of items from the shelves, to the removal of item records from local catalogs and OCLC, to disposal of items.

The last question asked participants to share what they learned from participating in weeding projects. One librarian noted that the experience gave her an understanding and appreciation for the work of colleagues outside of her department. Another librarian mentioned that weeding the collection makes it more useful, even though removing books from the library is hard thing to do for many library professionals.

by Andrea Hebert and Cristina M. Caminita