This is what wading into the Weeding Muck can feel like.
I am very lucky to have four lovely student assistants at the Reference Desk; Meghan Carey, Laura Cotney, Brian Myer, and Corey Shotwell. All were featured on a blog post from last fall. In addition to manning the desk and bravely answering questions of all shapes and forms, they have individual projects upon which they are working. The assistants have dubbed these tasks “SuperFunLibraryTimes” projects (yes, no spaces, all one word).
One of these tasks involves weeding the reference collection. Weeding is one of those librarian things that typically gets shoved to the back of the to-do folder. All those judgement calls and shifting of books sometimes seems like a mountainous task (see video above). However, it’s one of the main ways we keep our collection fresh and pertinent to CIM’s scholarly mission.
Weeding a reference collection tends to be a bit tricky as there are no circulation statistics upon which to rely. All the reference texts remain in the library, so there’s no way of knowing what gets used and what doesn’t other than eyeballing the reshelving box every now and again. So, we’re relying on content. Is the information in the source duplicated in a different resource? If so, is it presented in a more complete manner in another book that we either own or should own? Age is another factor, albeit a tricky one. Currency is important, but just because a book is old doesn’t mean it’s not a good source.
Currently, we’re looking at vocal reference. It’s fun going through this project with one of my vocal grad students. He brings a healthy perspective from which this former flute-playing reference librarian can rely.
We’ve already identified some holes in the Routledge bio-bibliography collection, a staple for our comps-taking graduate students. Slowly, the plan is to make it through a healthy chunk of the reference bay by the end of the semester.
One more way your RML is keeping pace with trends in scholarly publishing!