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#PLA12 Weeding in the Digital Age

   March 28th, 2012

I'm still unpacking from PLA12 two weeks ago, and just came across notes I took during a great session on Weeding in the Digital Age. I know it's two weeks late, but it's still relevant. The discussion was led by Alene Moroni (Manager, Selection and Order, King County Library System), Stephanie Chase (Reference, Adult Services, and Programming Coordinator, Multnomah County Library), and Kaite Stover (Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City Public Library).

Program Description:

The explosion in formats for leisure materials is a challenge for all aspects of collection management, especially weeding and evaluation. Join a discussion that asks librarians to consider format, space, use, and building design when evaluating materials in all formats for withdrawal from the collection.

We should hold digital collections to the same standards as print collections - this means weeding out the unused and out-of-date to avoid eclutter.

Tips for Weeding Digital Collections

  • Do you weed your Overdrive catalog? It's not easy (you need to do the legwork yourself, and email Overdrive directly), but their interface is difficult enough to search so that if something isn't getting used, then it's getting in the way
  • Look for overlap in research databases, and then cut the unnecessary ones
  • Your access and finding tools can go a long way to cutting through the clutter - look for better catalog/database search interfaces, or create web-based pathfinders with direct links into databases

Thoughts on Formats

  • Watch for genre+format preferences that emerge (and listen to what patrons tell you). For instance, perhaps your mystery print books don't circulate much, because mystery reader prefer digital - but perhaps just the opposite is true for westerns. If that's the case, then get rid of your westerns ebooks and focus on mysteries
  • Large print physical books are not dying, even though ereaders can do large print
  • Younger patrons are often format-agnostic: if they can get their book in print, ebook, book on CD, downloadable audiobook, etc, they're happy

But remember: just about anything you're getting in digital format now can be taken away with a mere licensing change - what then?

I liked this session a lot because it hadn't occurred to me to weed ebooks. I have done some of that with databases, but certainly not Overdrive. It's also good to hear how other libraries balance print and online purchasing - for instance, we subscribe to the Safari Computer Ebooks database, and so have cut back on our print computer books.

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3 Responses to “#PLA12 Weeding in the Digital Age”

  1. Oleg K, Says:

    With regards to overlapping databases, it’s also wise, imho, to regularly check if the items in the databases have become available online.

    An example is the Los Angeles Times — many Los Angeles library systems subscribe to the Proquest 1985-present LA Times, but all of those articles are available online and searchable fairly simply through Google’s “site:” operator. Basically all the library is paying for is the search interface and little extra metadata. I don’t make any database decisions in my system, but I do wonder whether whatever we pay Proquest for their interface is worth it.

  2. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Oleg: I’ve heard of that too. WI’ve canceled a few things because we could get it free elsewhere, but at the same time, I know that if that free resource ever goes away, we’ll probably need to pick up the pay subscription again. Switching interfaces like that is a pain, both for staff and patrons probably, but if it will save a lot of money it might be worth it.

  3. Weeding in the Digital Age « RPLD eBook Collection Management Says:

    […] article from the Swiss Army Librarian about a session at PLA 12 on weeding ebook collections: Weeding in the Digital Age. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. By jrimer in Uncategorized on […]