Thursday, 5 December 2013

Weeding Project

(Orla Kierly garden spade &
fork from
Over the 2013 summer break LRC staff undertook a weeding project in response to student feedback claiming that they didn't have access to up-to-date resources. The aims of the project were to refresh the look of the shelves by withdrawing old and tatty material and to withdraw individiual print titles whose remaining presence could be detrimental to learning. Therefore, it was decided that we would focus initially on three subject areas - ICT/computing, engineering and business - with a different member of the team responsible for each. I also chose to look at removing old editions where new editions were available in stock and removing titles which supported old exam boards.

I used Heritage to identify print titles which hadn't been borrowed along with titles with edition numbers and, in conjunction with the College prospectus, titles which supported old exam boards. Within the three subject areas the following criteria were then applied when looking at each item:
  • age and relevance to subject - is the information now out of date/have there been new developments?
  • condition - is the item in need of repair/beyin repair?
  • whether surplus to requirement - do we have unnecessary multiple copis either through non-use, being an old edition or ebook version available in stock
I applied the following rules when looking at old editions and unsupported exam boards:
  • keep the most recent edition in stock and withdraw all previous editions
  • if the exam board is no longer supported for that subject withdraw all titles (unless published since the most recent exam board changes in 2008-2010)
I reviewed each item selected for withdrawal as my job role gives me a more overall perspctive of our collections. However, I 'rescued' less than 10 titles. Our Front of House team then began the withdrawal process, deleting each title from Heritage and applying the appropriate withdrawn stamps. The items were then boxed up for collection by Better World Books.

This has been a new project for me as I have not been involved in a large weeding project before. As a result, there have been a few areas in which I have revised my initial approach.

  • I was too harsh when withdrawing old editions and we agreed that in future we should keep the previous edition. This is in line with university practices.
  • After some initial deletion had taken place by the Front of House team we decided that it would be wise to compile a list of withdrawn titles for auditing purposes. A hand-written list was compiled of the items already deleted from Heritage and this was then initially continued to record further items. However, a suggestion from within the team prompted an important time-saving change. The new process now involves changing the status of the item to 'withdrawn'. A report can then be run listing these items before they are deleted in one go on Heritage. This has helped speed up sections of the withdrawal process and provides a more accurate list of withdrawn items.
  • Overall timescale: whilst we initially agreed that we wanted all items to be withdrawn off the floor and moved to the staff area by the start of term, there has not been a final deadline for the withdrawing process. This has meant that the project is actually still ongoing. It has also meant that I have had to produce the report and run the global delete mentioned above early in order for our OPAC to give an accurate reflection of stock (all items set to withdrawn are then hidden from view on the OPAC resulting in some titles displaying with no accessions). In future, the latter end of the project needs to be managed more closely to ensure that it doesn't drag on.
The next stage for me is to revew the comments made by the team with regards to their recommendations for collection development. I shall also be working with another colleague to plan the next stage and area of focus.