Time for spring cleaning yet? Let’s weed!

Weeding the lettuce (798138529)

I follow a bunch of library-related listserves, and it’s a great way to keep up with the discussions happening all across the profession. Recently, there was an extended discussion from a newbie library person about weeding a collection in a small library.

This seemed like an issue that would apply to many of our libraries here in CMLE; so as we start to think about spring and cleaning (or “still stuck inside to escape the cold for a few more weeks” and cleaning), it seemed like a good time for us to also talk about weeding!

First, you might need to get past some sort of fear of getting rid of books.

Get over it!

You are not going to get rid of books that your community actually wants (unless the copy is gross – see below); you are getting rid of the materials nobody actually reads. And now you have room for some other great things!

I’ve heard people tell me they don’t weed because they don’t have a book budget to replace the materials. This is just silly. Keeping old junk, that no one likes or reads or wants, on your shelves out of a fear that the shelves might look empty makes no sense. Lack of budget is a real problem; but it’s not addressed by hanging on to junk.

Toss that stuff!!

But, wait!! Don’t just randomly throw things away!! We are library people; we are organized; we have a system for this. And, because we are library people, we even have a cute acronym for this: CREW. CREW stands for Continuous Review, Evaluation, and Weeding. Nice, isn’t it? It sounds like we are all working together. You are not alone in your library, weeding your collection – we are all there working as a CREW to help you!

Okay, so you have a procedure established to do some continuous review of your material, you know how you evaluate good stuff from not-so-good stuff, and you are ready to weed! (Do you need some help in writing up these procedures? CMLE Headquarters is here to help!)

Now we employ another easy-to-remember acronym to start removing things from your shelves, or your computer: MUSTIE.

If your materials are MUSTIE, it’s time for them to leave.

  • M=     Misleading–factually inaccurate
  • U=      Ugly–worn beyond mending or rebinding
  • S=       Superceded–by a new edition of by a much better book on the subject
  • T=       Trivial–of no discernible literary or scientific merit
  • I=        Irrelevant to the needs and interests of the library’s community
  • E=       Elsewhere–the material is easily obtainable from another library

It all makes  sense, doesn’t it?

These are not materials you would want in your library. You enhance the collection by getting rid of these MUSTIE items. Weed!!

In my first library, we had no book money; so we did the first weeding done in many years! We got rid of books not checked out for six years. The shelves looked so good when we were done, and the catalog was so much tidier! A lot of things had just gone missing, and now we knew about it so we could make a decision to rebuy it or not. We had confidence that when we found something in the catalog, it actually existed!

And what happened to our circ numbers? They zoomed up!! The MUSTIE things were off the shelves, and now they looked appealing to our patrons!

Would you like someone from CMLE Headquarters to come over and help you get started? We’d love to! Do you need me to come to a meeting with you, to explain the need for weeding? That would be great!

Take some pictures of your process and send them to us – we would love to share your progress with other people across the system!

Enjoy weeding out all the MUSTIE stuff, and making your library better for your community of users!