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Weeding the Collection: An Analysis of Motivations

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Considerations for the Collection Conscious Librarian

Tagged Division

Engineering Libraries

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1470.1 - 25.1470.13



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Paper Authors


Peter Zuber Brigham Young University

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Peter Zuber is the Engineering Librarian at Brigham Young University. Apart from liaison and collection responsibilities, he has evaluated and implemented virtual reference services and helped in the redesign of the library’s website as well as the integration of a new federated search engine. As Chair of the library’s Research Behavior Group and User Studies and Assessment Team, he worked with librarians to discover user preferences and habits and how they impact current library services and tools. Published papers include topics such as search engine constraints, open access, institutional repositories, and remote services. Before joining the university, he was Director of Imaging and Process Engineering for T/R Systems in Atlanta. He holds 29 patents in the areas of electrophotographic engine design, color theory, and digital image processing. He received his M.L.I.S. from the University of Southern Mississippi and his master's in imaging science and engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York.

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Weeding the Collection: An Analysis of Motivations, Methods, and Metrics “The traditional (or Alexandrian) model of the library is based upon the mistakenintuition that to be good a library must be vast and always growing” (Trueswell and Gore 1975).Deselection of library collections, whether printed or electronic, whether by choice orcompulsory, creates opportunities for criticism and growth. Where the literature suggests thatstarting a deselection project close to last on a librarian’s list, events beyond a librarian’s control,such as space reallocations or e-provider policies, can force a deselection action. In cases likethese, time constraints or inflexible vendor procedures can impose risks that threaten the attemptto maintain a viable collection. Sometimes, the choice is voluntary; but if not explicitly definedas part of a formal collection policy, the rationale used can vary, and if inexperienced, risksbeing incomplete or at worst, inaccurate. Where there are varied criteria for determiningcandidate resources, their proper application is key to successful results. Considerations such aslocal historical interest, volatility of the subject discipline, or the ubiquitous nature of the contentwill impact decisions as much as typical parameters such as physical condition, usage, orcurricular integration. In the disciplines many engineering librarians support, the volatility of thedisciplines can vary widely. Paying particular attention to engineering-related subject disciplines, this paper willoutline historical motivations that drive deselection initiatives, describe varying methodspreviously employed, and propose if a systematic rationale for applying metrics to determinecandidate materials as a function of discipline could be developed and successfully employed.By listing the number of parameters available, suggesting which ones would be emphasized forparticular collections, and contrasting their application in a manual versus an algorithmicallyapplied routine, a proposal for a best practice methodology will be given.Trueswell, Richard W. 1977. “Zero Growth: When is NOT-enough enough? A Symposium,” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 1 (5), 6-7.

Zuber, P. (2012, June), Weeding the Collection: An Analysis of Motivations Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22227

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