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Ethics of Weeding

A program for Everyday Ethics, May 2010. CKLS Administrator Harry Willems. Ethics of Weeding. Chris Rippel CKLS Consultant. If you print this presentation, print the notes as well. See http://tinyurl.com/24b99aj for instructions. This presentation covers:. Ethical theories

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Ethics of Weeding

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  1. A program for Everyday Ethics, May 2010 CKLS Administrator Harry Willems Ethics of Weeding Chris Rippel CKLS Consultant If you print this presentation, print the notes as well. See http://tinyurl.com/24b99aj for instructions.

  2. This presentation covers: Ethical theories Librarians learn to weed Weeding as part of collection development Ethical weeding Some recommendations

  3. Ethical theories Goodness = ethics - the goodness of the outcome makes it ethical (Kant) Ridding the library of outdated, misleading, ugly materials is good Room to shelve/re-shelve is good Happiness and serenity = ethics - ridding one of superstition and fear (Epicurus) Discarding is so beneficial it rids us of superstition and fear Superstitions about “sacred” items disappear Moral individuals live according to the dictates of reason (Epictetus) Understanding who we serve and the purpose of our library Source: “The Ethics of Library Discard Practices” by Rosann Bazirjian, The Acquisitions Librarians, Vol. 2, # 3, September 1990, pp. 136-146.

  4. Librarians learn to weed 1893: Weeding to save space Thomas Crane Public Library Quincy, Massachusetts, 1882 Built with supposedly enough room for 100 years of growth. Library filled up in 10 years. Source of pictures: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Crane_Public_Library

  5. When a librarian goes through his collection and selects the books that he thinks will be no longer useful it will happen that the very next week perhaps some man will come in and want that very book that has been thrown away. Perhaps this man's grandmother placed that book there. Packing the books in close stacks, it seems to me, would be more economical than [weeding]. In carrying it out I am afraid you will not only fail to save money but will cause an amount of criticism that will make it very undesirable. It is bad enough to stand the critics who complain that a book … has not been bought. You can always fall back on lack of funds. But it is a rash librarian who would like to tell one of these gentry that he had recently thrown that very book away. It is a nice question to determine what to add. To decide what to reject after it is^ received, paid for, and cataloged is infinitely more difficult. Librarians learn to weed Quincy Plan debate at national convention in 1893 Melvil Dewey

  6. 1902: Circulation as criteria for weeding Use circulation statistics to identify “living” and “dead” books. Store “dead” books in another location. Librarians learn to weed Stanley J. Slote studies of eight public libraries discovered that past circulation is the best predictor of future circulation. - Source: Weeding Library Collections by Stanley J. Slote, 1989, p. 64. In 1985, Loriene Roy weeded 10% of three Illinois public libraries. One-percent of weeded books were requested during the next eight months. - Source: “Weeding without tears” by Loriene Roy, Collection Management Vol. 12, #1 and 2, 1990, pp. 83-93, p. 91. Harvard President Charles William Eliot

  7. Librarians learn to weed “Huge cemeteries of dead books” depress me. In 1973, when Stanley J. Slote weeded 20% of fiction, six months later circulation increased 106.2%, 20 months later the increase was 121.2%. - Source: Weeding Library Collections by Stanley J. Slote, 1989, p. 65. 1911: Weeding to aid patrons Fifth Earl of Rosebery Archibald Philip Primrose “We have learned that the more books we eliminate, the higher our circulation goes…. [I] could provide statistics to prove that 10 percent weeding job would automatically result in upward circulation of 5 to 10 percent. … There must be a point of diminishing return, but we haven’t found it yet.” - Eliot Shelkrot, Baltimore County Public Library, 1980s. - Source: “Does weeding increase circulation?” Loriene Roy Collection Management. Vol. 10, #1 and 2, 1988, pp. 141-156, p. 146 and 1952.

  8. Saving space • Saving patrons’ and staffs’ time • Increasing library appeal • Enhancing collection’s reputation for being up to date • Providing feedback on care of items • Providing feedback of collection’s strengths and weaknesses • Increasing use of other materials • Making room for more valuable materials • Encouraging patrons to be more careful handling materials • Broadcasting need for more materials • Reducing duplicate copies • Withdrawing sexist materials • Eliminating items no longer fitting library’s mission • Eliminating items outside patrons’ reading level • Instilling greater sensitivity in selection • Eliminating items no longer of interest to patrons • Saving overhead costs of retaining books • Reducing binding costs • Encumbering catalog and saving time in its use • Protecting readers from inaccurate information • Withdrawing irreplaceable books • Reducing expenses for fire insurance • Saving time inventorying • Encouraging browsing • Forcing librarians to write logical and meaningful collection development policies • Forcing more communication with faculty • Improving library safety • - Source “Weeding” article in Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, Vol. 54, 1994, page 367 - 368. Librarians learn to weed Benefits of weeding

  9. CREW Method by Segal, 1980 Musty Ugly Superseded Trivial Irrelevant to your collection Elsewhere availability, e.g., interlibrary loan Librarians learn to weed Development of weeding criteria CREW: A Weeding manual for modern libraries, 2008, pp. 46-7. Available online at http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/ld/pubs/crew/

  10. The CREW Manual teaches that CREW is part of a great cycle of creation and destruction for maintaining the vitality of library collections. Librarians learn to weed Weeding as part of collection development Weeding’s place in the cosmos. Source: CREW: A Weeding manual for modern libraries, 2008, page 11. Available online at http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/ld/pubs/crew/

  11. Librarians learn to weed Process and Catalog books Leaving out a step is unethical Read reviews and purchase books Collection development cycle Shelve and Circulate books Weed and discard books

  12. LOOKS First impressions, space to browse, clean & bright covers, room for face-out display Librarians learn to weed Outdated Information Science, law, medical, child training Worn out and tattered MUSTIE, replace, repair Space - Shelving Room Adequate library shelving, room to expand, room to re-shelve, pleasing to the eye, ADA compliant Ethical weeding MISSION of Your Library Education - Archival - Social gathering - Recreational reading

  13. To book-lovers who believe libraries are about books, … Is weeding ethical? What about books? … weeding may appear to be anti-book and anti-library?

  14. “Ethical dilemmas occur when values are in conflict.” • from “American Library Association Code of Ethics” at http://tinyurl.com/6x3246 Ethical weeding Loving, preserving and promoting good books Weeding to maintain useful library collections Ethical weeding is a balance

  15. Ethical weeding Shelves 2, 3 and 4 circulate 45% more books than the lowest three shelves. Library shelving denies “Every book, its reader.” Shelves just inside the door circulate 24% more books than shelves 15 feet inside the door. Source: “The Influence of sloping shelves on book circulation” by Ralph R. Shaw, The Library Quarterly, Vol. 8, No. 4, October 1938, pp. 480-490.

  16. Year Books weeded # Displayed # Circulated from display 1911Biographies 205 28 (14%) 1940 Non-fiction 1,959 326 (14%) 1940 Fiction 2,245 1,029 (46%) Ethical weeding Source: “Does weeding increase circulation?: A review of the related literature” by Loriene Roy. Collection Management Vol. 10 (1/2) 1988. pp. 141-156. Displaying weeded books restores ethical balance Displays should start with 12 books. Pulled from shelves Week 4 Removed from catalog and library Week 3 display Week 2 display Week 1 display And for heaven’s sake don’t put up a sign saying, “Check me out or I will be trashed.”

  17. Protected values = Protecting an ethical position by being unwilling to compromise for any other value. Example: Against abortion even to save the life of the mother. • Early psychology experiments exploring this concept described people with protected values as truly uncompromising. More recent research shows that people who claim to be against something under all circumstances actually soften their stance under certain conditions. • “tragic tradeoffs,” e.g., weeding some books for access to other books • directing attention toward the benefits • slow decision making • Bottom line: the way we explain and do weeding affects its level of controversy. Ethical weeding Words and actions affect the level of controversy

  18. Staff may think that it is not possible to weed a little bit every day, but in fact with a little practice, that is exactly what we can do. If staff and volunteers are trained to look for shabby and outdated items, these materials can be pulled for review by the appropriate person on a weekly basis. … It’s not enough to weed every couple of years or only when space is getting tight. A vital, viable library collection is reviewed on an on-going basis. - CREW Manual, p. 11-12. Cultivating the collection Apply CREW guidelines and MUSTIE to each book. Please read, CREW Manual, pages 22 to 28 and 46 to 48 Books that have not circulated in 10 years, put on display between front door and circulation desk. Spend 15 to 20 minutes of each day cultivating one shelf. Please read, CREW Manual, step 10, page 28 • After one shelf is completed, stop for the day.

  19. Library book sales and giveaways • Your county fairs • List books sales on www.booksalefinder.com • Large print to local nursing homes • Nearby prisons may accept books • Book shelves in local motels with welcome sign and donation box • Handing westerns to truck drivers waiting at grain elevators • Organizations in nearby, larger towns wanting books • Sell books: Better World Books at http://tinyurl.com/ydjwgdp • Sell books: B-logistics at www.blogistics.com/ • Swap books: BookMooch at www.bookmooch.com/ • Recycle Cultivating the collection Replanting books

  20. One goal of our library is to help readers find books and to ensure that each book has a reader. • To help our readers find books, we make the collection as attractive and useful as possible. We remove out-of-date books. We repair damaged books. We clean grimy books. • To help books find readers, we place books that have not circulated in a long time on a display near the front door to increase the chance readers will check out those books. • Since research clearly shows that past circulation is the best predictor of future circulation, if a book does not circulate after three weeks on display, then it is a safe bet that this library is no longer the best place for that book to find a reader. So we give the book to another organization to make room for other books readers want to read. • Research shows that this process helps readers find the books they want and more of our collection circulates. Cultivating the collection Talking points explaining cultivating the collection

  21. “Weed It! : For an attractive and useful collection” • Why do we weed? • What happened in San Francisco? • How do we get staff and public on Our side? • Are some materials sacred? • What do we do with weeded materials? • How to convince staff and the public that weeding is necessary? • at www.wmrls.org/services/colldev/weed_it.html Cultivating the collection Of the articles listed on our “Ethics of Weeding” WebJunction page, Chris recommends this one.

  22. Central Kansas Library System 1409 Williams Street Great Bend, Kansas 67530 800-362-2642 (Kansas only) 620-792-4865 www.ckls.org Thank you for participating.Contact information: Harry Willems hwillems@ckls.org Chris Rippel crippel@ckls.org

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