1 March 2016 Newsletter Vol. 1 Ed. 2                                                                                                 Inquiries & Submissions:  newsletterCOS@gmail.com 

Training, Weeding & CREW

Maya                                                                                                               Mayanolastname@gmail.com                                                                                                                      

A librarian’s job is demanding, and I have the utmost respect for anyone taking on such a job – grant writing, record keeping, computer fixing, program development – and dealing with a variety of people who use the library.  My hat’s off to the dedicated people who have made the Village library special. 

As a child, I had a severe case of rheumatic fever that limited my activities.  Fortunately, I had books (this was the 1940’s).  From kindergarten up, my report cards all say I liked to read books and paint pictures and I still do.  When the Village library opened and the bookmobile stopped coming to Columbus, I began using the library, which over the past ten years or so, had become one of my favorite places to be. 

Just as a good gardener must weed the garden, library books also have to be weeded  – books get damaged and either need to be replaced, removed from the stacks and put up for sale as a fund-raiser for the library by the Friends of the library, or discarded if they are not salable.

However, a recent intensive culling of books leaving shelves empty and discarding some very unique first-person illustrated accounts such as of the Civil War, and some very fine relatively new art books left me not just distressed, but feeling violated.  Books have been relocated so I have to search for them, and many old friends (books) are missing. This is a difficult job for one person who already has many hats and to my way of thinking, should be done very carefully. 

In New Mexico, the State Library offers inexpensive or free training and certification programs which should be a requirement, especially in a small Village Library where few people have a Library Science degree or training in the weeding process.  The online training is free to anyone.  We have a limited number of people who read books in Columbus, and not very many people willing to take on the job.  Therefore, in my opinion, the Village Trustees should ensure that the Director receive proper training.  If there are expenses involved, perhaps the Friends of the Library could assist to ensure that the director gets the needed training for this difficult and challenging job.

Although I feel as if I am trying to close the barn door after the horses all got out, perhaps some consideration could be given to future training so we don’t end up with 30 boxes of culled books moldering in storage hopefully soon to be put out for sale for fundraising for replacement and new books.

To that end, I contacted Jeanette Larson, author of the CREW manual, who informed me that information is available at: http://www.nmstatelibrary.org/services-for-nm-libraries/continuing-education, or  call 800-340-3890. They also have links to other training resources, some free, some fee. There are also some good articles to help with understanding weeding. Look at: http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2015/06/managing-libraries/the-art-of-weeding-collection-management/#_ 

Following are notes that Ms. Larson sent me from CREW: A weeding manual for Modern Libraries: www.tsl.state.tx.us/ld/pubs/crew/index.html (page 74 of 107).  The entire manual is quite extensive but one comment offers some good advice:  

“Guidelines are not intended to act as a substitute for professional judgment calls and common sense.”  

I offer my comments on each of the points that follow, however, the library is for the community and requires active participation of the community, and of course, the Village Trustees.

"Good practice says that shelves should never be more than 85% full (and 75% is even better)" - I feel like old friends have left when I look at empty shelves.  Don’t see the point of empty shelves.

"Juvenile Fiction: Be ruthless in weeding juvenile fiction....Consider discarding older fiction especially when it has not circulated in the past two or three years."   As for juvenile fiction, it would about clean out the shelves!  Most popular seems to be the computers and movies although there is some interest in online books, audio books and e-readers. (Give me a book!)

"Items That Have Not Circulated in Three Years:  For most Dewey areas, CREW recommends that you look at any item owned by the library for at least three years but has not circulated in that time period." Columbus is a small Village with few readers – if we culled books that hadn’t been read in the past 3 years, it would leave us with very few books. 

"Remember that classics that are being read won’t be weeded—don’t keep classics just because they are classics!" Why NOT keep classics “just because they are classics”?   We do get a lot of tourists who can express delight at seeing an old classic.  You never know.

"Consider discarding personal narratives and war memoirs of World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam War in favor of broader histories of these conflicts..." Why discard personal narratives of the wars?  First person accounts can make for incredible reading – “Survivor” comes to mind.  The beautiful first-person Civil War account, written and illustrated by a soldier in the Civil War was to me a great loss for the library, and newer editions are re-writing history that in some cases may be less valid than a first-person account. Besides, it only suggests “considering” this option.

"Criteria for Weeding: Several factors must be considered during the weeding process. These factors include: ...The needs and demands of the library's community of users... The availability of more suitable material…The ability of the budget to provide funds to purchase more satisfactory items…. The possible future usefulness of a particular item." Why aren’t the opinions of the library patrons considered or solicited in making these decisions?

"Most philosophy books do not become outdated and low circulation may be of limited value in weeding decisions. Weed based on interest and use, but maintain a range of titles that explore Western and Asian philosophies." Is one doctoral dissertation really relevant to the Village of Columbus?

"Books that feature drawing styles and instruction should be weeded based on use and appeal. Retain basic technique books if well illustrated..." Many drawing books are reviewed at the library, but not checked out.  Some excellent informational books have disappeared, along with some beautiful illustrated works by famous artists.  Just as the arts, music, and physical education, the sources of true creativity, are being weeded from our schools, they are also being weeded from our libraries!  

                                                                                                     - Maurice Sendak  

                                                                                                       - William Blake