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Practical Librarian

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Collection Metrics: Using Publication Date

old booksI maintain the adult non-fiction 500s in my library. I normally let an Intern have their way with my collection, so it gets a concentrated weed at least annually. I also believe that collection management should be on-going, so I am constantly picking at the 500s. In that regard, there’s rarely something truly awful in the 500s. There are some lingering items that haven’t circulated well, or that are on schedule to be weeded the following year, but I deal with items in bad condition and unnecessary duplicates on an ongoing basis.Here’s how it works for the annual Intern weeding project:

1. What hasn’t circulated in three years? Weed ’em. I am fortunate to have a budget, space, and patron demand that can keep up with a three-year cycle. Of course, the Intern and I still look closely at what is showing up in this report. We don’t just weed everything that hasn’t circulated in three years. Some things are left alone for another year or two, depending on what they are and their purpose.

2. What is older than ten years? Depending on the subject area and its dependency on currency, weed ’em. For example, many math books, plant books, and animal books are ok up to (and even beyond) ten years. There are also some classics (for example, Stephen Hawking’s older books) that are going to be kept for a while yet too.

3. What is older than five years? See #2. These are more timely categories. Pluto kicked out of the planet club? Weed ’em.

Now it’s time for some metrics! We’ve removed the dead weight based on the above criteria, and a new shelf list is run for the 500s. Using Excel, it is sorted by publication date (or “date created” if you’re using the ILS I’m using, since that’s all we have to work with. Seriously.)

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