Tag Archives: weeding

5 #blogjune

Obviously 5 stands for Ranganathan’s five laws of library science. A while back, the Library Society of the World was doing its thing and making stuff and having conversations and I got inspired to pull together the results of some of all this into a wee poster of the Five Laws as told by Lolcat (in, of course, Comic Sans). Ever since then, I’ve never been able to find it when I want it [now have found it again but Blogger won’t let me upload it; will edit this parenthetical with a link once I’m home with more tools], but I do have a printout on my pinboard, right above my Cult of Done Manifesto. (The other day — our office walls are made of glass — I caught a student looking in and reading it. “Gee,” I thought in amusement, “that makes me look professional.” I left it there of course, but haven’t quite brought myself to add next to it my entry to the LSW colouring contest.) Anyway, “Every book its reader” has been giving me thinky thoughts of late regarding, in particular, books written in languages other than English. We do teach other languages of course, and have students from other countries, so sometimes such books are useful in our collection. But sometimes we get offered donations which I think are more useful on our disposals table for students to just take away (and luckily often the donator agrees) and sometimes there are books that (if it weren’t for multiple complicating factors) rather than move them to storage I’d love to be able to send them to a library whose users all read the appropriate language and the books would be made far better use of than they can ever be here.

An afternoon weeding

I accidentally got myself volunteered to help out with a big weeding project we’re doing at the moment, so I spent my desk shift formatting and printing out a 7-page title list (and checking in box, pointing people to the stapler, finding a full-text article for someone, and phoning again to find out what’s up with our EFTPOS/card reload machine). Then after lunch I went to spend what turned out to be three hours looking at the shelves to make decisions (or in some cases indecisions) about each book and jot notes on my list.

This particular subject area was about Turkic/Altaic languages, and for historical reasons probably half the titles were written in Russian; many others in French or German. It just so happens that at one point in my life I learned enough Mongolian to catch a bus to another town after several misunderstandings and to explain to people that switching to Russian was actually going to diminish our chances of communication. Alas, I don’t recall any/much of it now, but I can still sound out the Cyrillic alphabet, and after this afternoon’s session have learned several words in Russian after all: ‘dictionary’, ‘writing’, ‘language’, and various obvious cognates.

Weeding tends to be dusty work: I took a break halfway through to wash my hands, down some water, and refresh my sanity while discussing my progress with a manager. Shortly after I got back to work I took a briefer break to stand at the end of the stack while a long earthquake rattled all the shelves. (Honestly, figuring I was on the fourth floor, I was rating it a magnitude 3.9; it turns out it was a 5.2. I probably wasn’t factoring in the extra distance compared to where my home is in relation to the epicentre. Still, it really didn’t seem that big.)

Finished my list and washed my hands again. Is there such a thing as dust poisoning? Because one feels so much better after washing one’s hands. Yes, one can wear gloves, but they’re supremely awkward so I long ago gave up.

Next step: type up notes, sort, and send to manager to forward to some subject specialists. Step after that: format and print out the next list.

More fun with weeding

Things found today:

  • a bunch of 1992 press releases from a company I’ve never heard of;
  • a government guide to decimal currency for businesses, prepared when NZ changed from pounds and shillings in 1967 – very cute and absolutely fascinating, but we’ve got copies in other branches where it’s more likely to be used. I read it cover to cover before respectfully disposing of it;
  • a pair of books which perfectly fit our criteria to be disposed of (another copy in another branch; not quite in our subject area; have had practically no use) – but they were so lovely we couldn’t bring ourselves to do it and they’re now back on the shelves;
  • moths. As I pulled down several bundles of journals (tied together with binding tape a decade or so ago and clearly never touched since) a couple of moths flew out at me. I wasn’t fast enough to dispose of them along with their erstwhile home, but with luck the tidier shelves will prove an environment too hostile for them to breed in.

What, will these hands ne’er be clean?

Our library is soon to be getting a new and much-needed lift, to make room for which we are undertaking a large collection management exercise (aka “weeding”, though I personally prefer the “pruning” metaphor – getting rid of both deadwood and of nice enough shoots in order to make the collection as a whole bear more fruit) in part of our collection.

While studying for my MLIS, in a temporary fit of determination to actually study, I came up with a mnemonic for twelve ways pruning could benefit a collection. I can’t remember it anymore, but I’m still a great fan of the process, so this post title doesn’t refer to any kind of guilt, but rather much more prosaically to the fact that, while we’re working our way through this, for approximately 7.5 hours of each day my hands are grey with decades-old dust.

My favourite candidate for deaccessioning so far is Objections to removal of Fendalton shops: shops proposal in doubt (this link may not work for very long…). It was a slim A5-sized thing, the kind of quarter-flushing-type work our bindery used to do decades ago. I opened it up to find the barcode and discovered it wasn’t a bound report; it was a pocket. A pocket containing two newspaper clippings. From 1966.

It’s now being recycled. The relatively nice books (duplicates and such) we put out for students to browse through, but the really ridiculously thick-with-dust what-were-we-thinking? ones we put in the recycling bin; we’re green that way. We’ve also been dismantling plastic ringbinders to extract the cardboard inside for recycling, and tearing apart spiral-bound reports to recycle the paper and throw out the wire/plastic. Today (possibly a little bored by now of wielding the “cancelled” stamp) I used some spiral-binding wire to make a bracelet for my sister (Merry Christmas!); and my colleague, inspired by the artistic possibilities in the length of wire I tore from another ancient report, made the sculpture you see above, which she’s kindly allowed me to name “Lampshade”.