I have been consulting with a small library and of course preaching the virtues of weeding a collection. I love to spout off on how ALL libraries have dead weight in the collection. Nonfiction is usually easy to weed and somewhat predictable regardless of library size. But then I treaded into fiction. Ouch.
Fiction usually is an area of the library where a shelf space and circulation still have to intersect with taste and personalities. Ultimately this is where weeding is mostly art and not science. Glancing at the shelf list I was pleased by the circulation data I was presented. Nearly every title in this collection was working hard for the library. In another library with space, I would only have to pull for condition. My new problem became what do you pull when all of it is circulating well and is in good shape.
Time to put the big girl librarian pants on and plunge in! With help from the staff we all re articulated what the fiction collection goal was going to be-popular material and classics. Back titles are nice, but can we afford them or the space? With help from circulation data we had to draw a tighter definitions of "good" circulation numbers, This became a real project especially when you think of authors with series and back titles that are amazing. I don't envy anyone this challenge.
I have got through about a third of the collection. My new goal will be to weed systematically and regularly every few weeks. Checking the shelf list regularly will also help. My head still hurts but we are getting there. My new rule is going to be the tighter the shelf space, more active regular the weeding. Waiting until shelving is at critical mass is going to be much more difficult and painful.
So if you are a small library and feel like there is ABSOLUTELY no where to go, try this. Define a an area (maybe a stack or a section of the alphabet) Be brutal and fill a cart. Don't look back. Wait twenty four hours and breathe deeply. Have another staffer go over the cart and discuss as necessary. (I like a double check because there is always something odd that might need to stay). After weeding from the collection take to your book sale room or box it out of the way. Don't have it sit around and taunt you.(this is how the hoarding starts) Keep moving forward.