or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


“Awful Library Books” Author on Weeding

   December 6th, 2011 Brian Herzog

Weeding List at the Manchester (NH) LibraryRuth from Artifact Collectors emailed me a link to her interview with the author of Awful Library Books, Holly Hibner.

The interview is about the weeding process, the weeded books and what happens to them after they have been weeded. If you like it, please feel free to share it with your readers!

I did like it, so here you go. Most librarians will know the details, but I always like hearing ideas for what to do with weeded books - and of course, the books that show up on Awful Library Books are always entertaining.



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How To Search The Web (in 2000)

   July 1st, 2010 Brian Herzog

We just subscribed to the Safari computer ebooks database, so I started weeding our print computer book collection. It's a heavily-used collection, but I found a few books that made me laugh.

Not that they were bad books, just out-of-date for the computer field. Case in point is How to search the web, edited by Robert S. Want, ©2000. Flipping through it was a walk down memory lane - heck, right on the cover were listed search engines that I used to use a lot and now had forgotten about (but I do miss Infoseek):

How to search the web book cover

The book itself was obviously useful in its time, and now is an interesting look back at the past. Among other information, it contains b&w screenshots of each of the search engines' homepages, reminding us what the web looked like 10 years ago - directory browsing is certainly less popular these days:

Yahoo
Yahoo homepage 2000
Internet Archive, 7/6/00
Yahoo Today
Ask Jeeves
Ask Jeeves homepage 2000
Internet Archive, 7/6/00
Ask Jeeves Today (ask.com)
AltaVista
AltaVista homepage 2000
Internet Archive, 7/6/00
AltaVista Today

And this was on the shelf in a library that weeds regularly - who knows what gems are waiting in larger libraries that have the space to keep lots of things.

On another note, my parents will be visiting for the Fourth of July, so I won't be posting again until later next week. I hope you have a good holiday (non-Americans, I hope your regular days are good, too).



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Withdrawing Journals: Ithaka Report

   November 10th, 2009 Brian Herzog

magazinesIn case you missed it, Ithaka release a report in September titled "What to Withdraw: Print Collections Management in the Wake of Digitization" [pdf].

It's really geared towards academic libraries looking to achieve a balance between digitizing journals for access (and repurposing the floorspace they took up), and retaining print journals for preservation purposes.

Being a medium-size public library, our journals are mostly for popular reading, but we do keep a small magazine archive of past issues. The criteria I use on which titles are kept in the archive is basically:

Does this magazine contain information that someone will find useful in two years?

In most cases, this includes things like cooking magazines (for recipes), home improvement/craft/sport magazines (for ideas and tips), those useful for research (like Vital Speeches of the Day), and of course, Consumer Reports (we also have a large [donated] collection of National Geographic, dating back to 1911). But the archive has limited space, so it gets weeded every year to make room for new issues/titles.

And no discussion of digitized journals would be complete without me mentioning one of my favorite tools, the Boston Public Library's e-Journals by Title search. I make some journal collection development decisions based on what I know I can access through them, and just hope it stays that way.

For more on the Ithaka report, check out their website or Marie Newman's summary on Out of the Jungle.



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Reference Readiness : A Manual for Librarians and Students

   August 13th, 2009 Brian Herzog

Ready Reference coverI was weeding the reference collection when I came across Ready Reference : A Manual for Librarians and Students. It was published in 1984, so I flipped through it thinking the viewpoint of ready reference from 25 years ago might be humorously outdated.

I was wrong. I was 10 when this book was published, but I still use many of the resources author Agnes Ann Hede recommends.

Each chapter in the book is devoted to different types of resources, and describes the best books in each area. As you would expect, most of the book focuses on print:

  • Dictionaries: 31 pages
  • Encyclopedias: 23 pages
  • Indexes, Serials and Directories: 26 pages
  • Bibliographies: 32 pages
  • Computer Sources and Services: 5 pages

I did get a laugh from the page comparisons, but it was certainly appropriate for 1984.

However, when I read the Computer section, I was amazed by how relevant it still is. There was no "computers are a difficult fad we just need to humor" mentality. In fact, the language she used is exactly what is commonly used today. She speaks of "getting into" databases, and casually refers to online searching (not on-line searching or "online" searching).

And her characterization and advice concerning balancing print and online resources is as true today as it was then:

[T]o be today's "compleat librarian," you must add to those [print] sources the increasingly abundant resources offered through computer technology.

The sad part is that this advice, 25 years later, is still not being fully embraced by the profession.

I debated, but ultimately weeded this book. As much as I liked it, it certainly was outdated, even though we do have the current copies of many of the print resources it recommends. But take a look to see if your library has this book. And weed your reference collection!



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