Edge Library
The Crew Method

INTRODUCTION This revision responds to the multitude of changes that have taken place in the library field over the last two decades. Much needed updates in the areas of multimedia and computer technology have been added, and options for the disposal of weeded materials have been augmented. The CREW guidelines by Dewey class are expanded and updated, with more attention focused on deselection criteria for children's materials. The bibliography is enlarged and updated to include current editions of standard works, and the periodical articles list includes contemporary selections. Other sections, such as Before You Weed, CREWing the Reference Collection, CREWing Children's Materials, and CREWing with Computers, have been added to enhance the overall weeding process. To provide a more balanced point of view, an attempt has been made to eliminate gender bias in the language. As in the first edition, this manual is designed for use primarily by community and branch librarians, the members of the profession who are shortest on time, space, and budget, but who are nonetheless as anxious as the directors of the largest city libraries to provide their patrons with efficient, effective service in a pleasant, attractive library environment. To achieve these ends an entire range of indirect "technical" services, such as selection, cataloging, and weeding, must be carried out. However, the scarcity of staff and urgent demand for direct public services, such as reference and circulation, often prevent some of these indirect services being performed adequately. Although the small community librarian may rely on workshops offered by the continuing education staff of their Texas Library System office or the Texas State Library for pragmatic guidance, there is little in the professional literature that gives practical, clear, detailed advice on how to carry out the technical services. Library science courses are often more theoretical than practical. The harried community librarian is reluctant to devote his or her own precious time to devising effective ways of performing routines the value of which may not be very clear. This manual attempts to describe clearly, practically, and in step-by-step fashion a method of carrying out the five processes of "reverse selection:†inventory, collection evaluation, collection maintenance, weeding, and discarding. Keep in mind that no one method can serve the needs of all libraries. Librarians are urged to use professional judgment at all times and modify the guidelines presented as needed for their particular situations. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I wish to extend my sincerest thanks to everyone who played a part in the revision process: Laurie Mahaffey of the Central Texas Library System office; Betty Landon of the Northeast Texas Library System office; Anne Stobbe of the Texas Panhandle Library System office; Judi Fouts Patrick, owner of Finders Keepers out of print book search company; Texas State Library Staff: Anne Ramos, Library Science Collection Librarian; Christine Peterson, Automation Consultant; Renee Graham, Office Services Manager; Barbara Ward, Grants Administrative Assistant; Edward Seidenberg, Manager of the Library Development Division; and Jeanette Larson, Manager of Continuing Education and Consulting Services, without whose insights, encouragement, and editing skills this manual would never have appeared. BACKGROUND AND PROCESS THE CYCLE OF SERVICE: WHERE CREW FITS IN The diagram below represents the flow of both direct and indirect library services; it is a circle because each process leads to the next. The whole cycle is called "collection building" -- a series of ongoing routines that continuously adds to, removes from, interprets, and adjusts the collection to fit the needs of its users and potential users. SA is the Selection (through reviews and requests) and the Acquisition (ordering and paying for) of the library's materials. CP is the Cataloging (including classification) and Processing (accessioning, stamping, pocket-pasting, data entry, etc.) of the same materials. CR is the Circulation and Reference step, in which the prepared books are out on the shelves being used in the public services. The method called CREW (Continuous Review, Evaluation, and Weeding) integrates all the processes into one smooth, streamlined, and ongoing routine that assures that all the necessary indirect services are accomplished in an effective way. Immediately after entering Circulation and Reference (CR) use, the library materials enter the CREW processes of inventory and maintenance. When, through evaluation and weeding, the librarian discovers that the material's useful career is over, it is retired by discarding. Meanwhile, CREW is generating information on the current strengths, weaknesses, gaps, and saturation points of the collection that the librarian uses for another round of Selection and Acquisition (SA). At each step, the library professional uses special knowledge of library science and library materials and the particular community to meet the needs and demands of the library's users and potential users. CREW is a vital part of good library service. A library that does not evaluate, weed, or discard is like a cart wheel with a fourth of its rim missing (see illustration above). Too many community libraries today are having a rough ride on such a broken wheel. WHY WEED? WHY CREW? Why are these CREW functions so important, even vital, for a good, useful community library? Haven't many community libraries done a good job for years without weeding? Isn't CREW simply a fancy name for throwing away books and slowing down a library's growth? The Six Benefits of Weeding There are six major benefits of weeding, and especially of CREWing. YOU SAVE SPACE. Discarded materials no longer cost money for cleaning, binding, mending, extra stacks, extra catalog drawers or database space, and all the other hidden costs of maintenance that are not eliminated by lack of use. The library staff will not need to fill the bottom shelves or pile books on top of the stacks, and the library will be more attractive and easier to use. There will be space to provide tables and chairs for in-house study. The open, friendly appearance that is the trademark of a good community library will be maintained. YOU SAVE THE TIME of patrons, staff, and best of all, yourself. Crowded shelves full of ragged books with illegible markings cost time for patrons looking for a particular book, for staff trying to shelve, and for the librarian trying to use the collection for reference or reader's advisory services. Filing and using the card catalog are impeded by drawers full of worn cards, and searching is slowed by an excess of citations to outdated or unusable materials. Library housekeeping, from dusting to relocating Dewey classes, is impeded and made more back-breaking by an overload of useless books and other materials. YOU MAKE THE COLLECTION MORE APPEALING by replacing ragged, smudged books and unattractive rebinds with attractive new books. Circulation can be increased by simply making the shelves look nicer, even when there are fewer books. YOU WILL ENHANCE YOUR LIBRARY'S REPUTATION for reliability and up-to-dateness and build public trust. It has been said that patrons feel that library books are selected by experts, and to some, the mere fact that a book is in the library lends authority to it. A twenty five-year-old, "pre-Mariner" book on the planets or thirty-year-old, pre-moon landing resource can give the library a credibility gap of astronomical dimensions. The CREW method provides a CONTINUOUS CHECK on the need for mending or binding, alerts the library staff to lost or stolen books in need of replacement, and guarantees a more accurate volume count. Finally, CREW provides CONSTANT FEEDBACK ON THE COLLECTION'S STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES. This information can be helpful when inviting donations. For example, knowing that the business books are out-of-date, the librarian can approach an organized group or an individual and request well-defined assistance in building an area of special interest and usefulness to them. CREW keeps the present shape of the collection clearly in mind and helps in planning future directions for it. CREW integrates not only its own five functions, but every function performed. CREW helps the librarian see the cohesion of every task performed in the library and the purpose of every task in relation to the patrons and the collection. These advantages of weeding, and in particular of CREW, point out the truth of the old adage: “Less is more.†BEFORE YOU WEED Before implementing any kind of weeding plan, carefully evaluate the library's materials selection policy and goals for the collection. Goals are based on the roles that the library plays in the community, all of which help to determine the weeding policy. With these factors in mind, a collection-centered evaluation will give a better idea of what the collection consists of and identify specific classes of materials as likely candidates for weeding. The materials selection policy should provide a criteria to follow for depth, coverage, and selection of the overall collection. The scope of the policy should include subsections, such as reference, nonprint, juvenile, large print, and adult. The policy should also indicate when to retire outdated materials, and list appropriate means of disposal. While formulating a materials selection policy, keep in mind that each library has its own individual needs which must be considered in making policy decisions. 1 Materials selection and deselection are similar activities. First, they are both necessary parts in an effective collection development program; and second, both require the same type of decision-making criteria. The same factors that lead to the decision to add an item can also lead to a decision to remove that item sometime later. Criteria for Weeding Several factors must be considered in the weeding process, including: the library's roles in the community and resultant goals; the needs and demands of the library's community of users; whether funds for buying more satisfactory titles are available; the relationship of a particular item to others on that subject; cooperative agreements with other libraries; the degree to which the library is to function as an archive or local history center; the possible future usefulness of a particular item; and holdings in the centralized database(s) to which the library belongs that may be borrowed through interlibrary loan. 2 Once the weeding process has begun, you may also wish to check the library's holdings against any centralized databases (union catalogs) to which the library belongs. Titles that are not circulating may be weeded with more impunity if they can be obtained from another library through interlibrary or lateral interlibrary loan. Also consult bibliographic aids when evaluating the quality of a given item considered for weeding.3 These can serve as general guidelines for determining the value of the item to the collection. return to top What to Weed? Materials/Books of Poor Content: Outdated and obsolete information (especially on the subjects of computers, law, science, space, health and medicine, technology, geography, travel, and transportation) Trivial subject matter Mediocre writing style Inaccurate or false information Unused sets of books Repetitious series Superseded editions Not on standard lists Biased or sexist terminology or views Unneeded duplicates Unsolicited and unwanted gifts 4,5 Materials/Books of Poor Appearance: Worn out, ragged items Poorly bound or poorly printed editions Items that are dirty, shabby, warped, bug infested, or otherwise marked up, mutilated, or "edited" by patrons Small print, poor quality pictures Brittle film, magnetic tape (in the case of video- and audiocassettes and films) or paper Yellowed, torn, or missing pages Unused Materials: Items uncirculated for 3-5 years and not needed for reference or in-house use Duplicate copies no longer needed Periodicals that are not indexed Unused volumes of sets Unneeded titles in little-used subject areas Materials on the "hot topics" of several years ago More books than are needed on any one subject Topics No Longer Within Your Collection Priorities Titles (print and nonprint) readily available elsewhere in your community Subjects no longer relevant to your changing clientele Checklist of Weeding Factors For all materials, consider: *Date *Author *Publisher *Physical condition *Additional copies *Other books on the same subject in the collection *Expense of replacement *Shelf-time (i.e., time spent on the shelf without circulating) *Relevance of the subject to the community For juvenile and young adult materials, also consider: *Format *Reading level *Current interest in the subject matter *Jacket art (contemporary vs. outmoded) For periodicals, consider: *Current use *Indexing available *Space available *Microforms available General Guidelines Retain local history, writings by local authors, and materials with local settings. Sets and series often have one or two volumes of special merit; these volumes should be retained even though the rest of the set is discarded. Some older reference volumes, such as quotation books, should be kept, because later editions augment rather than supersede.6 It is a good idea to include in the selection policy a list of items that should not be weeded (e.g., genealogy, local authors, Caldecott and Newbery Book Award prize winners, etc.). Keeping these guidelines in mind, it is important to remember that guidelines are not intended to act as a substitute for professional judgment calls and common sense. For example, a sixty-year-old National Book Award Prize winner that has not circulated in more than ten years is simply taking up valuable space and should be discarded. BEGINNING THE PROCESS Even though they may recognize the necessity for weeding, many librarians are uneasy about actually doing it because the weeding process seems unstructured, subjective, and arbitrary -- all factors which cause them to procrastinate indefinitely or to weed sporadically and/or indecisively. To help structure the weeding process, and give more confidence to librarians doing it, the process can be broken down into some manageable and objective steps. 7 The actual methodology of CREW is deliberately simple. The original procedures have been streamlined through field tests and careful discussions of actual situations in real community libraries. Top priority in a community library is rightly given to direct service with a human touch. To cut the time and effort required for indirect services, CREW has been streamlined to ten steps, in four time groups, with allowance for stopping this work to attend to patrons and administrative tasks. The first step needs to be done only once (although all library policies are subject to revision when necessary); the other nine steps form an ongoing process that may be continued for as long as the collection exists. return to top Weeding Responsibility One general, frequently asked question of method is: Should weeding be done by the head librarian only, or may it properly be delegated? Since the situation varies greatly from library to library, a rule of thumb should be to never let anyone weed who does not already take part in the selection of new materials. The primary responsibility in any library must be handled by staff members who can view the library from the long-range perspective. These staff members have developed expertise through many regularly scheduled hours working with and thinking about the collection, and are committed to the principles of library management in accordance with the collection development policy and goals of the library. Effective weeding requires using good, subjective judgment, not rules.8 The librarian should never delegate the weeding evaluation function to a volunteer, although volunteers may certainly pull worn and damaged books to be evaluated for weeding. It may also be helpful to develop guidelines for volunteers and nonprofessional staff to follow while shelving. In addition to checking publication and circulation dates, volunteers and clerical staff may also pull from the stacks (1) any book with a copy number greater than two, if more than 2 copies are on the shelf; (2) any book superseded by more than one later edition--again, only if the later editions are on the shelf;9 and (3) any books in ragged or poor condition that may be candidates for mending, binding, or withdrawal. The librarian may also wish to recruit the talents of local experts for particular subject areas (e.g., high school English teachers or college instructors can evaluate the literature section, while area math and science teachers can assess the value of those parts of the collection). Team weeding, where several librarians from one area join forces to cull each other's collections, is also an effective method of separating the wheat from the chaff in library holdings. In each case, the final weeding decision is left to the professional judgment of the resident librarian. THE CREW METHOD IN TEN STEPS Step One: Make weeding a part of policy. Obtain Library Board approval of a written weeding and discarding policy as a defense against possible controversy, and as a guide for day-to-day weeding. If a selection policy (a highly recommended item) already exists, the weeding policy could form an amendment or appendix to it. Check for legal restraints since some town charters contain rules about disposal of public property, including library materials. If a selection policy does not already exist, take the time to develop one and have it approved by the library board, city council, or other governing body. Examples of policies may be obtained from the Texas State Library or other libraries in the area. As part of the materials selection policy, a definite gift policy should be established allowing the library director to accept, decline, and dispose of gift books according to his or her discretion. A sentence stating that the library will not make any attempt to appraise values of donated materials for tax purposes may also be included in the gift policy. Although the library is not prohibited from putting values on donated materials, it is always possible that the library doing an appraisal would have to justify that evaluation to the Internal Revenue Service.10 Following are sample sections that can be added to the library's selection policy statement in the areas of weeding and gift books: WEEDING: Materials that no longer meet the stated objectives of the library (including those that have become damaged or obsolete) will be systematically withdrawn on a continual basis according to the accepted professional practices described in the publication, The CREW Method. Disposition and replacement of library materials so weeded will be at the discretion of the library director, subject to all relevant provisions of the Charter of the Town of ________________________, and the statutes of the State of Texas. DONATIONS: The ________________ Library is pleased to accept gifts and/or memorial gifts from patrons. Gifts are gratefully and willingly accepted as long as no restriction is placed upon their use. Acceptance of gifts (of books and other library materials) will be determined by the library director on the basis of their suitability to the library's purposes and needs in accordance with the library's stated materials selection policy. Use or disposal of all gift materials will be determined by the library director or designated agent. The library has the right to discard any gifts in poor physical condition (e.g. brittle paper, water or mildew damage, torn and/or missing pages). Gift values will not be appraised for income tax purposes. Step Two: Gather usage statistics of your library's collection. Your records of circulation statistics should break down usage by classification of topic area as well as by types and levels of materials. Statistics on reference information queries should also be kept on an ongoing basis. Analysis of these statistics should be completed at least annually to detect and document areas of greatest usage and need.11 return to top Step Three: Build weeding into the year's work calendar. Set priorities (those specific areas of the collection most in need of weeding or those that will be entered into a database--especially if you are anticipating automating or entering your collection into a computerized database--should be weeded first) and schedule the times when you will weed the collection. As a rule of thumb, one CREWing of an entire collection should take approximately a year, although the first, most thorough CREWing may well take longer. Allow plenty of time for the CREWing. If done in a careful manner, weeding is a slow process requiring thought and judgment. If there is a peak season for one type of book (e.g., 500's just before the school science fair), schedule that section for a later time to make the inventory more accurate. Endeavor to do the weeding during slack hours and slow seasons when there will be minimal distractions. Step Four: Gather the following materials on a book truck at the shelves to be analyzed: The appropriate drawer from the shelf list catalog or computer printout of the the section being considered A sheaf of slips listing the various disposal categories (see example following), blank note pad, or Post-It Notesä A marking pen and shelf marker A protective apron with pockets (optional) This manual Once an area has been targeted for CREWing, shelf read the section to ensure proper order. This will make taking inventory much easier and more accurate. DISPOSAL SLIP OF ANYWHERE PUBLIC LIBRARY( ) Bindery( ) Discard( ) Mend/Preserve ( ) Book sale( ) Promote( ) Replacement/New Edition( ) Donate to _____________________________________________________( ) Trade with ____________________________________________________( ) Check database for other locations of this titleOther locations of this title: Replacement title: _______________________________________________ Step Five: For weeding, study the subject area(s) in your collection as a whole, then examine each item in turn12, checking for physical condition, circulation dates, copyright date, and appropriateness for your collection. Allow stretches and coffee breaks to keep yourself alert. Do not do so much at one time that concentration and good judgment are lost. Use the "Guidelines Tables" of this manual, but also feel free to alter the formulas to fit your particular needs, using your experience and knowledge of your community and their needs. Note any guideline alterations in the margin of this manual (as is done with Sears and Dewey tables) to maintain local consistency. Check the library's holdings, any centralized databases to which the library belongs and bibliographic aids for items considered for weeding, and for alternative locations of marginal titles. Place a slip in those books needing treatment or discard (marking the category of handling needed), and reshelve the books that are fine "as is." If you stop the work temporarily, mark the stopping point with the shelf marker and mark the catalog card or entry on the printout. As a double check, note the call number of the last book on the pad. You may also wish to make notes as you proceed for a later display, booklist, or locally prepared index (e.g., an index to short story anthologies owned by the library). Step Six: Check the library's holdings. At the same time you weed, you may choose to take inventory. When examining a book for weeding, make a check mark with a colored pencil on the verso of its title page or in any consistent spot unlikely to be noticed and erased by patrons, such as the upper right hand corner of the title page. Make a corresponding mark on the shelflist card or on the printout for that book next to the accession or barcode number for that copy. Do not consider books that are not physically on hand, unless your circulation system is capable of creating a printout of loaned items in Dewey order (in which case the books on loan, but not overdue, can be inventoried in the class(es) you are doing). In all other cases, take all books returned at a later time (after their classes are CREWed) without this year's inventory check on their title page versos and mark their versos and their shelflist cards or printout entries prior to placing them on the open shelf. Over time, this method will show you which books are lost, stolen, or have strayed, and which should be considered for replacement. Any book still unchecked on the shelf list six months after its class is inventoried may safely be presumed to fall into this category, unless you know it to be at the bindery or long overdue and in the process of being retrieved. To ensure an accurate collection count, mark these books “missing†and withdraw the cards from the shelflist or delete the entry from the online catalog. return to top Step Seven: Check the pulled books against the standard indexes the library holds. This process will alert you to a possible high reference usage item, since the indexes will continually be directing patrons and staff to this book. Such a case might suggest special exemption from the general rules of weeding, and if the book is physically worn, replacement or a change to noncirculating status. (See the Bibliography for a list of standard library indexes.) Step Eight: Treat the books according to their slips. 1) Bindery: Prepare bindery forms for books needing binding and store them for periodic bindery pickup or mailout. 2) Mending: Do the required mending or put the books aside for a clerk or volunteer to mend. 3) Discard: Process the discards by removing or marking through all marks identifying the library; pulling the shelf list and catalog cards for last copies, removing copy information from the database, and crossing out the accession number or barcode on the shelf list for duplicates; tearing off the book pockets, book cards and barcodes, stamping an appropriate term (e.g., "discard," "withdrawn," "on permanent loan") on the inside of the front and back covers; and putting the discards in the booksale, storing them for an annual sale or donation to another library, or boxing them for garbage pickup or the pulp dealer. If donating them to another library, place all catalog cards in the front of the book (you may wish to secure them to the first page with a paperclip). The recipient library will have a head start placing the book in circulation if cards accompany the book. Remember to remove any barcodes or identifying marks before disposing of any materials to prevent their being returned to the library by misguided but goodhearted souls who, for instance, may have bought them at a garage sale. 4) Replacement: Place aside for careful consideration each book needing replacement by a new copy, new edition, or better title on the same subject. 5) Recycling: The library should already be a scheduled stop on any recycling pickup program for newspapers, periodicals, and other recyclable materials (e.g., scraps of laminating film, construction paper, aluminum cans, and glass and/or plastic bottles). If recycling a much larger amount of material than usual, let the service know ahead of time so they can plan for the extra room needed in their pickup vehicle. (Also see page 58 of this manual.) Step Nine: Replacement checking and ordering. Order replacements at the conclusion of weeding a major Dewey classification. Compare the weeded books with titles in recent editions of selective bibliographies for possible replacement titles. Further, if the library's collection does not contain any recommended titles in a specific area, consider ordering from the titles listed below (unless there is little demand for them). Selective bibliographies might include the following: Children's Catalog (H. W. Wilson Co.) Public Library Catalog (H. W. Wilson Co.) Fiction Catalog (H. W. Wilson Co.) Books for Public Libraries: Selected Titles for Small Libraries and New Branches (R. R. Bowker) Reference Books for Small and Medium-Sized Libraries (Texas State Library) Science and Technology: Purchase Guide for Branch and Public Libraries (Carnegie Library, Pittsburg) (All of the above, plus additional titles, appear in the bibliography at the end of this manual.) It may also be helpful to consult lists of award-winning books such as Pulitzer Prize Books, National Book Awards, Best Books for Young Adults (ALA), Notable Books (ALA), Newbery and Caldecott award winners and honor books, Bluebonnet and Lone Star reading lists (TLA), and Coretta Scott King Award winners, as well as bibliographies in Library Journal, Booklist, and those prepared by the Regional Public Library Systems and Major Resource Centers in Texas. Check reviews of new books for the last year and Books in Print for replacement or supplementary titles or new editions. Pencil in a star on the book pocket or flyleaf of each book slated for replacement before reshelving it and mark "TBR" (To Be Replaced) in soft black pencil on the author and shelf list cards or on the shelf list computer printout. (This step will alert you to pull the book and possibly to pull or revise its cards or entry when the replacement comes in). Prepare the orders for the replacements with the note, "Repl. (call number)" on the bottom of the order slip as a signal to pull the older book when the new copy is received. Step Ten: Set up displays for low circulating, high quality books that would benefit from better exposure. Plan the displays to be colorful and relevant to current community concerns. If the book still does not circulate, consider it a candidate for trade with another library or for donation. If done routinely every day, or even every week, this review of the collection will expand your knowledge of the library's holdings, give you a reservoir of possible reference sources, and prepare you for informed selection of new materials on the basis of actual usage and the real strengths and weaknesses of the collection. For example, you may want to coordinate selection of new science books to coincide with CREWing of the 500's. In this way, the feedback between the present collection, its use, and future directions will be strong and direct. Selection by subject grouping also makes it easier to evenly allocate purchases for each area of major demand, as opposed to random selection based on casually scanning issues of journals that carry reviews of books and nonprint materials. return to top CREWING CHILDREN'S MATERIALS Juvenile collections are as different from adult collections as children are from adults, and require different considerations for selection and deselection. To begin with, children as patrons frequently require an adult "go-between" to find what they need for research and pleasure reading. A child browsing through the nonfiction collection may be completely lost unless he or she has been shown how to find the materials needed. Even then, children are even less likely than their adult counterparts to note the publication date and double check facts against other sources. They are particularly susceptible to outdated and/or inaccurate information since they do not always have the knowledge base to distinguish it, assuming that if it's in the library, it must be both true and current.13 The inexperienced and unsophisticated users of the juvenile collections can be easily misled, and there are no pat formulas for weeding the materials since adult criteria cannot be applied in all cases. For example, an item may have sat on the shelf for well over a year, completely ignored and unused, but if a skilled librarian matches the book to the right child, it becomes both useful and valuable to the collection.14 This is what makes individual guidance, story times, displays, and book talks so important for making materials accessible: they are what cause seemingly "dead" collections to spring to life. There are a few guidelines that can be applied to both adult and juvenile collections. Naturally, the person who selects the materials should be the person to cull the collection and make the final weeding decisions. As in adult collections, a weeding process that strengthens the entire collection, both in appearance and content, requires the judgment of a person who knows children's literature as well as the audience the collection serves. The review of the collection should be continuous, with one full cycle ideally completed annually. In evaluating the collection, standard lists and media reviews should be consulted. General Guidelines Juvenile Fiction - Replace worn editions of classics and award winners. When possible, select titles that come with library binding and avoid any drab, coarse, or heavy bindings that include dull covers; they will not "sell." Young Adult Fiction - Should be kept as current as possible. Anything over 10 years is suspect; classics should be replaced with newer hardback or paperback editions. Picture Books - Should be evaluated on the merit of their stories and illustrations. Given the wide range of possibilities to choose from in today's children's literature market, there is no reason this section should be anything less than quality. Little Golden Books(TM) and those featuring cartoon characters such as Strawberry Shortcake(TM), the Care Bears(TM), and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles(TM) are not suitable for library use. The former do not have bindings meant to stand up to constant use and abuse; the latter are trite commercial publications intended only to sell a product, although local demand may warrant keeping a few titles on hand. Nonfiction - This is the area where many collections run into the most trouble. The belief that "anything is better than nothing" has perpetuated the existence of many outdated and inaccurate items, often to the detriment of the child. Providing a student with information that is no longer current can result in a lower grade on an assignment at best; a warped and inaccurate view of the subject at worst. On the positive side, not having enough information on a particular topic can be a powerful leverage tool to make the case for more funding. Other Considerations Simplified Classics (also called "abridgements") should be evaluated carefully. Although some may be useful for attracting reluctant readers or in the adult literacy section, apart from some notable exceptions, such as Shakespeare's Stories, they are often hackneyed, drab, and lifeless. Replace with new hardcover or paperback editions. Cheap Series Books for the most part are poorly written and without merit. Kids may read them, but only because they lack awareness of anything better.15 Replace these low-quality series with newer editions of series favorites like the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, the Boxcar Children, and the Three Investigators. Older Titles with shabby bindings, outdated illustrations, or torn pages should be discarded. Replace award books, such as Newbery or Caldecott, with newer editions. Discard nondescript titles popular fifteen or so years ago in favor of newer titles with updated illustrations addressing contemporary issues. Older Editions printed on thin paper with fine print or unattractive illustrations should be discarded in favor of newer titles. Old, worn classics should be replaced with new hardback or bright, attractive paperback editions. return to top Travel and Geography titles more than five years old are misleading and inaccurate and should be pulled. The older the title, the more inaccurate the content. Imagine how useless a title published before either of the World Wars is to a student working today on a research paper topic from the 20th century! Although they may be interesting from an historical point of view, they are of no value for contemporary social studies projects. Science, Medicine, Inventions and other topics that change rapidly should be updated every five years. Items more than ten years old should be discarded. As in the adult collection, erroneous information about science, technology or medicine is potentially harmful to the patron who may attempt to follow instructions no longer considered safe. Text Books and material written specifically for curriculum purposes in the public or private schools should be discarded, unless there is a strong demand from the community and they are updated every few years as the curriculum changes. If there is a substantial homeschooled population in the community, one alternative may be to locate textbooks in a separate section where they will be readily accessible. Systematic CREWing of the children's collection is a necessary part of public library work, and should be done with a thorough knowledge of the collection and the literature. When weeding is done in tandem with a strong, well-balanced book selection and purchase policy, the collection will enhance the overall library program and enrich the juvenile and young adult patrons it serves.16 Two ideas for small libraries to keep in mind when judging the effectiveness of a juvenile collection are the "boutique" theory and the "bubble up" theory. A superstore-like atmosphere that offers "everything under the sun" may be too overwhelming for young readers, whereas a small, boutique-like selection of quality books will serve them better. Superior literature, like the proverbial cream, will “bubble up†to the top, appearing on recommended book lists, award lists and the like. Libraries with limited collection development funds may prefer to wait for annual best books lists to choose blue-ribbon titles for their juvenile collections. CREWING THE REFERENCE COLLECTION There are two important criteria for CREWing reference collections: the automatic deselection of older editions that have been superseded, and periodic evaluation by the librarian. Evaluation may determine that different types of sources should be retained at varying schedules.17 For instance, almanacs to be replaced annually; dictionaries every five years; softcover indexes to be removed when hardcover editions are received. It is recommended that the reference collection have its own written collection development policy outlining standards for selection and depth of coverage. The policy should include criteria for the removal of outdated reference sources, which may involve retention for a specific length of time, transfer of material to the circulating collection, storage, or discard. As with the circulating collection, guidelines for policy development should be based on the individual library's needs and developed by personnel who know the information needs of the library's users.18 Types of Resources Almanacs - Rarely useful after two years, although older editions may be retained for historic research, depending on the needs of the community. Generally, they should be updated annually, with older editions transferred to the circulating collection and then discarded each year. Exception: older editions of the Texas Almanac should be retained indefinitely, since each contains unique features that are not found in succeeding volumes. (One example is the list of major motion pictures filmed around the state since 1970 in the 1994 edition.) Dictionaries - Unabridged dictionaries may be retained indefinitely, unless worn from use and replaceable with the same edition. Specialized dictionaries, e.g., those for abbreviations, slang, and acronyms, should be updated regularly. Older editions may be retained and added to the circulating collection. In general, biographical dictionaries are never discarded unless superseded by a newer edition; e.g., Webster's Biographical Dictionary.19 Directories - Normally discarded when newer editions arrive, although several years’ worth may be retained if space permits and usage warrants. Exceptions to this rule are city directories and local telephone books which may be useful for genealogical research and may be kept indefinintely, although they should be housed separately from the current editions. Atlases - Usually revised every five years, geographical atlases should be replaced when updated. Older editions may still be useful to historians, but should be housed separately since most patrons will not check the copyright date, assuming that the library has provided the most current information. Relatively inexpensive road atlases can be replaced annually. return to top Handbooks - Subjects in the humanities (music, art, literature) may be retained indefinitely, supplemented by newer texts. Social science reference tools are considered outdated after ten years, by which time outmoded theories and practices are usually revised. Notable exceptions containing significant historical data are Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences and International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Science resources are generally outdated in five years, although texts on botany and natural history may be retained for longer periods.20 Indexes - Should be kept as long as the library houses the materials cited. A small library may not wish to keep older volumes of the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature if they discard periodicals after five years. On the other hand, they are still useful for locating citations and for aiding interlibrary loan services. Older editions of Granger's Index to Poetry may be kept if they contain out of print volumes retained by the library. Others, such as Bartlett's Familiar Quotations may also be kept, since newer editions delete some items while adding others.21 Biographical sets, such as Something About the Author should be kept unless space is at a premium. Even then, do not discard older volumes unless the information can be obtained at another location in the community, such as a local high school library. CREWING NONPRINT MEDIA The days when libraries housed only books and periodicals are long past. Even the smallest libraries have at least a modest nonprint collection that may include some or all of the following: art prints, phonograph records, videocassettes, audiocassettes, book and tape combinations, compact disks (CDs), and computer software stored on either 3.5 or 5.25 inch floppy disks. The CREW method is just as effective in keeping nonprint collections accurate, up-to-date, and attractive as it is for traditional print media. Items in nonprint collections, particularly audio- and videocassettes, are generally thought of as being special or somehow more valuable than printed materials. It is important not to let the physical format of an item detract from its main purpose as a useful source of information or entertainment. The nonprint category, also referred to as "multimedia," includes audiovisual (AV) materials. Although the same general principles apply to weeding AV materials as those outlined previously for print materials, there are some marked differences that present challenges in the multimedia deselection process. First, there are few standard lists of recommended multimedia titles by type of collection, and those that are available quickly become dated. Second, a relatively small percentage of the multimedia titles published every year are reviewed (although more review sources are beginning to surface), so that each potential withdrawal based on content will need to be viewed in terms of the specific goals of the collection. And lastly, it is more difficult to review nonprint items for content since their formats are less accessible and more time is needed to view or listen to audiovisual items than traditional print materials.22 One criteria to keep in mind while reviewing nonprint media is that many libraries, as a regular part of their policies, will not loan or borrow audiovisual materials through interlibrary loan. Therefore, needed AV materials will not always be available through this source. Other considerations are: physical condition, factual accuracy, visual and sound quality, instructional usefulness, and inappropriate or obsolete format (e.g., Beta video, 8-track tapes, phonograph records).23 Common Nonprint Materials Art Prints - Art reproductions have been phased out in many collections, although some may still support local school study topics. Any prints that are faded, scratched, warped, or otherwise shabby should be weeded, along with those that have worn or separating frames, or mats that are soiled or water stained. In some situations, this may mean eliminating an entire circulating collection. Art originals should be withdrawn if the prints or photographs are damaged. Chipped or damaged frames, soiled or stained matting, and broken glass can be replaced to protect the investment in a popular work. Circulation figures should also be analyzed and items withdrawn if no longer used.24 At times, art prints may find new homes in other libraries, or be sold in an annual book sale. Videocassettes - Under the best circumstances a videocassette can only be expected to last between 200 and 250 plays. In addition, many distributors often use lower quality videotape, thus reducing the price of their titles but ensuring a shorter tape life. As a general rule of thumb, library videos should be examined after approximately 100 to 150 circulations.25 Evaluate on the basis of visual and sound quality; currency of treatment of the topic; content accuracy; relevance of themes; fairness of racial, cultural, or sex role depiction;26 and the continuing relevance of the material within the library's overall collection development plan. return to top When reviewing, break the collection down into smaller subject areas that can be easily evaluated. For example, travel videos will circulate less often than popular feature videos and should be evaluated by other criteria (i.e., physical condition and subject, rather than by the number of circulations). Titles that were bought to fill initial demand, but do not measure up critically, should be weeded also. Generally, evaluate and discard items according to usage statistics (i.e., number of circulations), subject (accurate, up-to-date, suitable for the intended audience), and physical condition (obvious damage to outer plastic casing or magnetic tape, foreign objects inside the casing, or poor sound or picture quality).27 Audiocassettes - May be popular music recordings or audiobooks. Items in this format are particularly fragile and easily damaged. If a tape comes off a reel or breaks, there may be virtually no way to repair it if the cassette casing is hermetically sealed. Most of the newer audiocassettes can be opened with small screwdrivers, however. Tape that has been mangled or twisted should be considered damaged and the cassette discarded. Many sources of unabridged audiobooks will replace a damaged tape that is part of a set free of charge or for a nominal fee. Missing or defective language cassettes and manuals should be replaced if funds allow, regardless of the number of cassettes in the set or whether the entire set must be reordered. Incomplete sets may be included in an annual or ongoing booksale, with the missing components clearly noted. Book/Tape Sets (Juvenile) - Audiocassettes are subject to the same evaluation criteria outlined in the previous paragraph. Since these items are popular and incur high usage, many cassettes are invariably not returned with the books. In most cases, the books included in these sets are paperback editions that can be easily added to the existing juvenile or picture book paperback collections. Hardback books may also be processed and added to existing print collections if they are in good condition. Replace companion books when they become worn if the cassette tapes are still in good condition. Compact Disks - CDs are fast becoming the format of choice for musical recordings. Ideally, the popular collection should reflect all genres, styles, time periods, composers and performers, as well as include a sampling of collections or anthologies, highlights and greatest hits. Information-based CDs should be evaluated on: physical condition, currency of information, use, and duplication of information in another format. Music CDs may be judged by their popularity with library users. CDs are made from the same material used to construct bullet-proof windows, polycarbonate plastic. Sources disagree on the actual life span of this medium, although 10 to 25 years is generally thought to be the norm if they are handled carefully. Although they will not deteriorate appreciably with careful use, circulating CDs can sustain damage from mishandling ranging from chips and cracks to deep scratches and warped disks. They are also susceptible to temperature extremes, excess humidity, and high intensity UV light. Disks should be regularly checked for signs of physical injury, and damaged disks should be discarded.28 Phonograph Records - Easily warped and scratched, and rapidly losing popularity as a format choice in many libraries. Discard any damaged items, and replace popular discarded titles with audiocassettes or compact disks. Although record players or turntables are not as widespread as they once were (audiocassettes having become much more popular), there may be a demand among some patrons for phonograph albums. Weed heavily with the idea of phasing out the collection altogether, depending on the needs of the community. Computer "Floppy" Disks - In-House Use: Not intended for long-term data storage, as information loaded on heavily used disks must be recopied on to new ones every few months. They are also susceptible to erasure from magnetic fields, such as those generated by telephones. Easily bent, folded, spindled, and mutilated, they tend to accumulate and multiply with startling rapidity. Consolidate information to lower the number of disks being used. Also, review computer software regularly to ensure that upgrading and replacement of software packages is done on a regular basis (unless the vendor routinely upgrades the disks). Unneeded duplicates and archival copies are also candidates for withdrawal.29 Circulating Collection: Circulating computer software is problematic at best. In addition to the physical limitations listed above, there are the labor-intensive chores of checking each returned item for damage, reordering, and repackaging. Computer viruses proliferate and are passed through tainted disks. Most word processing, graphics, spreadsheet, and desktop publishing programs are too expensive for small or medium-sized collections. Also, many of these programs require permanent installation on the users' computers or will only run on hard disks. Both situations are in violation of copyright or licensing agreements. Although public domain and shareware programs are not subject to these limitations, they are seldom reviewed, are of uneven quality, and usually lack user documentation.30 If computer software is circulated, be sure the original disks are stored away from the public and only copies are circulated. Additionally, original copies of software (e.g., Microsoft Word) should never be used when initially loading the programs onto the computer system. Instead, copy the programs to blank disks and store the originals in a safe place. Also, librarians are strongly cautioned to be aware of licensing restrictions. Do not use more copies of the software than you have a license to run. return to top CREWING WITH COMPUTERS Computers have proven to be valuable tools for the library in many ways. Many small to medium-sized libraries are now fully automated or in the process of converting to automated systems. Most of these systems can be adapted to aid in the CREWing process, provided that the online catalog contains an accurate, up-to-date record of the entire collection. It is worthwhile to point out that the same criteria holds true for the traditional shelf list card catalog. The computer method can be a useful alternative to physically carrying shelf list catalog drawers into the stack area, since it allows lists of library holdings to be generated easily and quickly. In order to be useful in the CREWing process, however, the automated system must have been in use long enough for items to have been added to the database and circulated on the system, usually one to three years after the system is installed. It should also be able to provide for each item: The latest checkout date for items currently being circulated The date each item was added to the collection (accession date) Previous checkout dates for items not currently circulating Other useful information may include the number of circulations and the copyright dates for each volume in the collection.31 Testing the System To determine whether or not your automated system has been in operation long enough to be a useful tool for weeding, it is recommended that you take a sampling of the collection using the following method: 1) Set aside 400 consecutive items as they are discharged, placing them on book carts for easy access near a computer terminal in low traffic area. 2) Enter the barcode number for each item into the computer, either manually or with a bar code scanner (wand or light pen). Call up the screen giving information on the number of times the item has circulated. 3) Using the form found in Appendix A, make a single hash mark to indicate each item and fill in the data for each volume under the headings provided on the form.32 4) Divide the number in column 3 by the number in column 6. The system has created sufficient information to be used for weeding the collection if this percentage is between 85 and 100 percent.33 Items That Have Not Circulated in Three Years Once your automated system is deemed adequate for the task, begin by printing out all items listed on the computer (by subject category or Dewey number) that have not circulated in the last three years. Include the author, title, barcode number, date of publication, last date of circulation, and number of copies for each item on the printout. Divide the list by subject category and separate it according to the sections to be weeded (there should be a separate list for each subject). This information will help you make decisions on what should be kept as part of the basic collection, regardless of how frequently each item has circulated.34 Use these lists the same way you would a drawer from the shelf list catalog, checking those items that are missing or checked out, and indicating with slips the disposal method or retention decision for each item listed. You will also be able to note those items that do not appear on the list, and add them to the automated catalog if you decide to keep them in the collection. Items That Have Circulated in Three Years After completing this process, use the system to create a list of all items that have circulated in the past three years. Repeat steps 2 through 9 of the CREWing procedures until the entire collection has been reviewed and compared with the automated lists. return to top Arguments Against Using Computers to CREW This method will almost certainly take longer than the manual technique in most smaller libraries, because their systems are likely to be newer and will therefore not include all materials in the online database. It may take a year or more to input every item in the collection into the system, and using the lists to review the collection may bring more items to the librarian’s attention than can be currently input. Arguments For Using Computers to CREW Using lists generated from the automated system will help determine which items are not currently listed in the system. It may also help prevent adding titles that will be withdrawn from the collection, although ideally, weeding will have taken place before the automated system is installed and running. The integrity of the automated catalog will be enhanced from the initial review of the collection, and subsequent reviews will become easier and faster each time the system is used

Robert J. Kleberg Public Library

220 North 4th Street
Kingsville, TX 78363-4410
Phone: (361) 592-6381
Fax: (361) 592-7461


TUESDAY - FRIDAY: 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
SATURDAY: 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
SUNDAY: Closed
MONDAY: Closed