There are many things I enjoy about being a librarian. As I’ve mentioned before, I find it particularly rewarding helping people utilise our resources to find the information they need. But a lot of the work we do as librarians isn’t really seen. Much of a librarian’s time is spent in an office sat in front of a computer screen – producing training material, managing web pages, communicating online with users, liaising with staff, reading list checking, finding out about new publications, researching and writing reports for projects, keeping up-to-date with developments in the profession.. etc. etc. So sometimes it’s nice to get out there in the shelves and do something that you can immediately see the effect of.
Weeding often seems to be a job that is put to one side, but it’s an important part of collection development. As well as keeping the collection current and relevant, it can also make life easier for users (and also keep costs down by reducing overheads required to heat/light extra shelving).
At my workplace, we have been doing a fair bit of weeding recently, and I have been doing a lot in one of my main areas of responsibility, the Teaching Practice Collection (materials for trainee teachers to use in lesson planning and whilst out on teaching practice). The collection contained some out-of-date teaching material, and this was my main reason for weeding. However, I soon realised that by weeding the collection it also made the relevant material much easier to find (not so cramped and easier to spot what you were looking for). Following a heavy weed, I was also able to remove some shelving and rearrange the area to create a room more conducive to study – room to prepare materials, work in groups, and spread resources out on tables. It’s a much better environment to work in now (not just a dark dingy room crammed full of books), and it seems that both the room and the collection is being used more as a result. I’m currently doing some research to see if usage has increased (and if so, by how much?), but I’m pretty sure it has and anecdotal evidence has shown that it’s easier to find things now – I certainly find it easier to use when I’m helping students find materials to use in their teaching.
From a personal point of view, it’s been a very worthwhile task, and although at times it has been a grotty job (some of the older material was way past its best and there was lots of sneezing!), it’s very rewarding to see such a physical difference to the shelves – I can certainly see the appeal of a physical job where you can see the fruits of your labour more easily!
How about you? Do you enjoy weeding or am I just odd?!