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On Shelf, Off Shelf, No Shelf

Page history last edited by Kaite Mediatore Stover 12 years, 2 months ago

Issues, Topics, and Ideas from the Attendees of

On Shelf, Off Shelf, No Shelf: Weeding in a Digital Age

Friday, March 16, 2012, 2pm

Stephanie Chase, Multnomah County Library

Alene Moroni, King County Library System

Kaite Mediatore Stover, The Kansas City Public Library

Opening remarks: We don’t have the answers. No one does yet. We wanted to bring this topic to your attention now so it’s not a surprise later. We don’t need to come up with the strategies now, but we need to be prepared.

For the sake of discussion: We should strive to have our electronic collections meet the same standards as our print collections.

Issue Raised: What do you do with some electronic books that are new to the collection but still “sitting” on the shelf?

Issue Raised: It’s difficult to have material removed from Overdrive collection. How do you do it in order to keep your catalog clean and less frustrating for patrons?

Alene: Ignore that fact that the item is electronic. It may be out of sight but it can’t be out of mind. Watch the travel books, legal guides, and medical titles. The only way to get titles out of Overdrive is email and request the material be removed. And you have to manually remove these items from your own catalog.

Issue Raised: Can’t search our Overdrive catalogs the way we can search our ILS catalogs. Some libraries are counting on the patrons/library staff to inform collection development/management staff that items are unavailable/outdated. The selectors are doing their best to keep up, but it’s beneficial to get as many library staff involved in and vested in maintenance of a clean electronic book collection.

Issue Raised: How does weeding digital collections work with consortiums? Many consortiums function as a committee. You need to approach deaccessioning the same way you approach acquisitions, however, better lines of communication need to be formed to keep consortium libraries in the loop so their catalog holdings can stay current and accurate.

Issue Raised: How should we be thinking about databases, video, podcasts? Was this part of the scope when the presenters submitted the topic? Answer: No. We were thinking of circulating electronic reading materials. However, this is another issue regarding digital collections that needs to be considered when constructing collection management policies and procedures.

Issue Raised: Patrons are thinking about eBooks and digital audio. How do determine which electronic formats to keep if there’s overlap?

Alene: King County Library System (KCLS) weeded the databases and cut the database budget in half, putting those funds into the downloadable content budget.

Issue Raised: Hold the electronic resources collections to the same standards of the physical collection: use, condition, and relevance.

Issue Raised: The topic of electronic materials weeding is an issue that can’t just sit with the collection acquisitions team. It needs to go to everyone.

Stephanie: When considering items for weeding, examine duplication of topic in various collections. Consider ease of patron use. Which databases serve a specific purpose? Make certain that recommendation of databases to suppress makes it to the catalog so they don’t show up to the public in the OPAC.

Issue Raised: With items that are electronic, the electronic format must be taken into consideration. Is the item in a current format patrons can access easily? Has the format been superseded by a new format? How are we allocating the funds? How are funds being used and how are we maintaining the collection in the context of the current formats? Are digital collections more ephemeral? How are holdings measured against what is owned in print?

Issue Raised: Are we looking at the weeding criteria? How do we apply it across the board? Need to consider the patrons who use the formats.

Alene: There are so many things available in electronic form that are not available in print. It’s often important to readers to have a full run of a series, and they are sometimes only available  in a combination of formats. Work toward having a balance through the collection and deep backlist for leisure readers. All formats should be represented in the collection, but every title does not need to be available in every format.

Issue Raised: What if you’re a system with two different departments? How do we hold our electronic collections to the same weeding standards when there's multiple staff managing these collections? And not necessarily the same staff?

Issue Raised: We have one collection development department. How do we reconcile this? This is the complexity that demonstrates the tipping point.

Stephanie: Right now, electronic book collections are about a number. We have “this many” titles available. Some of our policies have not caught up to this mode of current thinking. We may need to get away from the legacy thinking of some library collection development processes.

Stephanie: Don’t leave out how staff are affected by changes in reading formats. Every time a new format is added, staff need to be trained on the new method to show the patron. Staff who have no relationship with the vendor.

Issue Raised: Always put digital titles in the catalog when possible.

Issue Raised: When cutting back on electronic databases, if the database material was added to the catalog, how do you address this when weeding or unsubscribing to a licensed database?

Issue Raised: Are libraries shifting to ereaders for patrons with a preference for large print materials?

Issue Raised: How do libraries get catalogers to keep track of electronic titles? Some consortiums purchase electronic books at the state level for individual libraries and there is no catalog for the patron. When the consortium pulls titles or access to a database, this causes a problem for the smaller libraries. Smaller libraries who haven’t done that maintenance piece find there’s no longer access to the collection.

Issue Raised: Will the above conundrum point back to a reliance on print with electronic items disappearing from the catalog. When the digital piece goes away patrons could be left with no option.

Issue Raised: One library dropped almost all their large print titles. They served a larger older clientele. In 2011 they saw an increase in demand for large print titles. It’s the availability of bestsellers that they cannot borrow in electronic format. Patrons don’t want to purchase all of their books from Amazon.

Issue Raised: However, the ereaders are increasing the availability of genre titles in large print. You can crank up the print.

Issue Raised: One person in the room expressed amazement that so many folks who own ereaders don’t know that libraries have electronic books. How are libraries handling devices that become outdated/disappear/break and how do we handle/update collections that may be limited to the formats supported by these devices?

Stephanie: 19% of the reading population have a device that can access an electronic item (according to the latest Pew study). 80% of the library using population still want print. We put a lot of time into electronic collections curating, marketing and developing.

Issue Raised: For patrons who are under 30, we don’t care about format. Care about ease of use.

Issue Raised: Donna Lauffler from Johnson County (KS) Library: JCL looked at square footage in branches and then looked at number of items and got busy weeding. One branch was able to develop an early literacy center, another branch rediscovered teens and created space for them. JCL also looked at ways to better use their electronic collections  to keep the physical space for the people.

Issue Raised: A certain part of the collection is a throw away collection. Fiction in electronic format may not be as treasured. Readers may place more value on some print titles than electronic. Readers appreciate library staff tossing materials that are no longer popular and making room for new.  

Issue Raised: Physically people look at the space and tell you what you should have and tell you not to keep all this stuff. Readers want everything. They want the Amazon experience.

Stephanie: We need to consider the “we-want-more” crowd. They may want to have all that material on their devices.

Kaite: Is the clutter issue a matter of poor access?

Issue Raised: One audience member said, “As a librarian I’m very empowered to weed the print. Not empowered to weed the digital due to content, consortium, format.” How do you empower frontline staff to make those recommendations?

Issue Raised: Libraries can give the branch librarian power to weed the print book, but not the eBook. It belongs to the system.

Issue Raised: But if you have a floating collection you are responsible for the whole collection.

Alene: Do we all weed in cycles and use our policies for fiction and nonfiction? At what point did you develop the weeding policy for the digital collection?

Issue Raised: Was the under impression the library doesn’t own the book and it disappears at some point. So why weed it?

Stephanie: This material is still in the catalog. What happens if it doesn’t reach the 26 circulations. We are going to make sure that the items we have still match our catalog and our marketing and patron and staff knowledge.

Issue Raised: One library staffer talked about being in the process of going to floating collections for system wide collection maintenance. Will be adding electronic items and doing education for the staff that weeding is crucial and a part of customer service. It’s just as much, if not more, of a disservice when the items are old, inaccurate, or not what the public wants.

Issue Raised: how are libraries crafting collection development policies to include digital items? If an item is a classic, it’s probably still circulating.

Stephanie, Alene, & Kaite: Attendees were reminded that if they have a weeding policy, use it.

Issue Raised: An audience member suggested taking some of those old childrens books and using them in story times on iPads and tablets. The old books may not circulate, but the items can be used. Consider making the experience interactive.

Issue Raised: Tie the electronic collections to the basic principles of weeding and how we market those shelf sitters and midlist. We don’t have some of those same tools or merchandise for the backlist on Overdrive. The discoverability in the catalog may not be there. What are some of the tools we can use to merchandise those electronic resources before we take them out?

Issue Raised: Consider making color photocopies of covers of eBooks.

Issue Raised: This action “confused the crap” out of one library’s patrons. The patrons didn’t know what the format was.

Stephanie: Overdrive will let you choose what’s on your front page. Maybe merchandise midlist here.

Issue Raised: If a library is considering moving from a consortium collection to a standalone one, consider having one person with the expertise in a particular subject area purchase all the formats.

Issue Raised: When libraries weed a physical collection, the Friends of the Library have the opportunity to sell the withdrawn items and give the money back to the library. What recourse with electronic books do libraries have for rebates or reimbursements or credit?

Stephanie Chase
Systemwide and Virtual Information Services Administrator
Multnomah County Library

Alene E. Moroni
Manager, Selection and Order
King County Library System

Kaite Mediatore Stover
Readers Services Manager
The Kansas City Public Library

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