Collection areas are evaluated when the need arises, e.g. when a program of study is developed or expanded. The ability to generate many types of material usage and collection statistics is useful in collection maintenance and weeding. It is now easier to identify collection strengths and weaknesses and to determine which areas of the collection are heavily used.
Conservation practices are integrated into the superseded activities in the Library, through the awareness of the need to handle and store materials properly and to acquire new materials with quality binding and paper, when materials are intended for long-term use. The Library has a responsibility to preserve those items that have a particular value, are unique to this Library, and fit our collection development guidelines. The Library is in the process of initiating basic in-house conservation procedures, particularly for those Bailey and Special Collections materials for which regular binding and repair processes are inappropriate. These procedures include: the creation of acid-free boxes for bound volumes; de-acidification to a limited degree; and mylar encapsulation of maps and document items. Due to limited staff resources, items will be selected for conservation procedures by need according to the following criteria:
- Overall fragility of the item
- Monetary value of the item
- Historical value of the item
- Age of the item
Mending and Rebinding
Materials are usually identified for binding and repair as they are handled by staff during day-to-day activities. Binding or repair is considered for those damaged items not chosen for withdrawal from the collection. Simple repairs are accomplished in-house. However, a larger percentage of print materials are sent to a commercial bindery to be rebound.
Titles in the collection which are reported missing will be promptly evaluated for replacement. If titles are not replaced, other titles relating to the subject area may be acquired, if appropriate. Some criteria for replacing titles include:
- Currency of information
- If still need for instruction or research
- If they are still obtainable
Generally, weeding does not occur in a systematic fashion. Rather, it takes place in specific collection areas when a particular need is identified. Oversight for these small weeding projects is undertaken by the subject librarian. It also occurs as part of the acquisitions process when newer editions are added to the collection.
However, major weeding projects do take place on occasion. In larger projects, librarians work closely with departmental faculty and Technical Services staff to make the process as efficient as possible.
The goal of weeding, whether continuous or a major project, is to withdraw those items which are duplicates, out-of-date, no longer covered in the curriculum, superseded by more relevant materials, or in poor physical condition. The following criteria are considered in weeding:
- Poor content or indexing
- Subject is no longer within the scope of the collection development policy or no longer related to the curriculum
- Obsolete information or theories
- Superseded editions
- Inappropriate level
- Poor physical condition (unless suitable for replacement)
- Duplicate copies (unless multiple copies are justified by demand)
- Older outdated editions, unless they contain valuable information not found in later editions
- Usage of material
- Age, depending on changing nature of the subject. Ten years is a general guide when currency is a factor. Care is taken not to weed classic works in a subject area, or material of intrinsic historical value
Exceptions to general weeding policies are made for materials received on a contract depository basis which allows for discard only under specific terms of the contract, or where the Library is committed by specific policy relating to all materials in a given field. The latter includes government documents and some Rare Books and Bailey Collection items.
Items that are withdrawn from the collection are disposed of following the guidelines for disposition to state property, which include public sale. Materials that have very little value are recycled or discarded. The majority of withdrawn items are sold at public sales advertised to the campus and community. At times, materials of special research or collection value that do not fit the Library's collection criteria may be offered to other libraries. (See OSSHE guidelines for disposition of surplus library materials.)
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