11/29/10

Developing the Whole Collection

The use of library materials has never been greater. The number of books and other items checked out from the Pueblo City-County Library District is increasing at a rate of 17% in this year alone. Use has increased 65% in the last five years. Why are we so popular?
Certainly, the number of new items on our shelves is part of the story. We have focused in recent years on doing a better job of selecting new materials that people want to use, and this, undoubtedly, is showing up in the increasing volume of business we continue to experience. In each of the past several years, for example, we have budgeted a moderate but steady increase in expenditures on fresh materials. We also improved our procedures for selecting new items a few years ago, and this positive change has contributed to the growth in business. We are pleased with this progress. However, we can do even better.
One area where we can improve is in what librarians refer to as de-selection of library materials. Just as it is important to procure new items which meet the reading, listening, and viewing needs of our community, so, too, is it key to remove materials from the collection when they are no longer useful. A good library focuses attention on this aspect of building an excellent collection, and should have procedures in place to regularly and systematically cull items that are no longer desirable. Items that are out-of-date, worn out, or no longer used should be regularly and consistently considered for withdrawal from the collection.
Librarians commonly refer to this process as “weeding.” Just as a well-weeded garden will produce better flowers and vegetables, so, too, will a well-weeded library collection produce better results for customers, including increased usage.
S.R. Ranganathan, the notable twentieth-century librarian and mathematician, stated in his famous “Five Laws of Library Science” that “Books are for use” and “The library is a growing organism.” Ranganathan understood that libraries are not so much about storing materials as they are about promoting their use. He also taught us that libraries evolve and change to insure the materials within the collection are those that are advantageous to people. Part of Ranganathan’s viewpoint certainly included insuring the library’s collection is regularly pruned of deadwood in order to promote a healthier collection.
Will Manley, a well-known contemporary librarian, also appreciated this value when he wrote: “Next to emptying the outdoor bookdrop on cold and snowy days, weeding is the most undesirable job in the library. It is also one of the most important. Collections that go unweeded tend to be cluttered, unattractive, and unreliable informational resources.”
De-selecting materials from the library has many benefits. It saves space. It saves time for customers, as shelves crowded with old and unused materials are a clutter, not a positive. By carefully weeding, we make the collection more appealing. Use increases simply by making the shelves more customer friendly and attractive, even when there are actually fewer items. We also improve the library’s reputation for reliability, authority, and currency. People expect library materials are carefully selected and the information is up-to-date and reliable.
We have set objectives for ourselves at the Pueblo City-County Library District to improve our de-selection efforts. Unfortunately, this is an area we have neglected in recent years. But it is not too late. It is better to start now, than to never start at all. So, we are establishing these procedures now and will be implementing them in the coming months. This effort will make our library even better than it is today.

11/1/10

Facebook @ the Library

by Jon Walker
Are you on Facebook, yet? I am and so is the Pueblo City-County Library District. In fact, hundreds of people now regularly follow library events and activities on Facebook.
What is Facebook? The short answer is Facebook is a social networking website. But really it is so much more. Originally launched in 2004 as a way for college students to stay in touch with one another, there are now more than 500 million registered Facebook users worldwide.
With so many people flocking to Facebook, it is important for the library to be there, too.
A Facebook user creates a profile with photographs, interst, contact information and other tidbits of data. You can connect with other Facebook "friends" online either through public or private messages. Facebook even supports online chat. Importantly, Facebook is free and open to the public.
Why would you want to be on Facebook? Reasons can vary, of course. Some common causes include professional networking, reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances, socializing with friends, connecting with organizations, and learning new information.
What is the library doing on Facebook? Quite a lot, really. Not only do we offer information on the latest library news, but also such things as access to the library catalog and connection to book news and online book clubs.
I encourage you to get on Facebook and check us out at www.facebook.com/pueblolibrary.

LOCAL HISTORY AT THE LIBRARY by Jon Walker

Our community enjoys a rich and diverse history.  This is the story of the people and events helping to shape the saga of this region over ...