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February 2, 2021

New Year Weeding

While we may gasp at the thought of getting rid of books, we recognize it's necessary to keep a clean collection. Here are five reasons you might weed a title or copies: no interest, fallen popularity, out-of-date material, damaged items, and alternate mediums.

No Interest

No matter how interesting you find, say, Animal Feed Contamination, if it’s not relevant to your community and no one is checking it out, all it’s doing is taking up space on the shelves and cluttering catalog search results. (There’s a certain amount of discovery we build into our collections, but you have to weigh the pros and cons of each title. And you probably don’t need three copies of that book.)

Fallen Popularity

So when Harry Potter and the Cursed Child came out, you probably ordered like 50 copies and they were all checked out for the first few months... until they weren’t. Now it’s been a few years, and you figure you can get by without the 44 copies that are super worn out. To the book sale with them!

Out-of-date Material

Guinness World Records 1990 might be thrilling from a research point of view… but perhaps it’s time to get rid of 1990–2010. And Final Cut Pro 4 For Dummies really, really has to go. Along with anything on Internet Explorer. Computers move fast.

Damaged Items

If you have a lot of copies for something, and some of them are really damaged, getting rid of those will literally clean up your collection. Do you replace them? Check your circulation stats to see if it’s worth it.

Alternate Mediums

If you shifted your collection dramatically in 2020 to offer more ebooks to your patrons, you aren’t alone. Even as the world shifts back (however slowly), you may want to keep offering those ebooks. If you have 10 digital copies of Mockingjay from Overdrive, do you really need 20 physical copies on your shelves? We can all engage in logical, passionate arguments on “digital vs physical”—we know they’re different, but what is the appropriate balance for your collection? Perhaps you want the physical space for children’s books instead, or for illustrated reference texts, or some books by local authors that you can’t get digitally. And going digital isn’t the only consideration. Maybe it’s time to get rid of 10 of your 30 copies of Go Set a Watchman and replace them with a few large-print editions because the ones you had didn’t survive the surge.
Ready to clear some space on your shelves? Check out Spring cleaning—Weeding old items for help with weeding your collection in Alexandria. We’ve got a report that makes things easy peasy.

How often do you weed? What criteria do you use? Let us know in the comments!

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