My reference library

This week I have tackled the massive task of weeding the reference department. Well, I’ve started. There’s still masses to go. But the first step is the hardest…

All this ties in with my space planning idea that I outlined in a previous post. There will be decision made towards the end of the year, so I’m trying to get ready and get my ideas out there before it’s too late. My floor plan will be presented to a small managerial meeting next week, so keep your fingers crossed for some good feedback. 🙂

Proper weeding of our reference stock hasn’t been done for years and there is a lot of out-of-date stock on the shelves. But then the question arose: what makes a reference library? Does it archive things?

We archive certain things in our stacks, such as classic novels, relevant non-fiction and historical stock. We also have some precious, unique things. But to me the question for now is: what should be in the reading room itself?

I think the reading room should be a research centre. It needs to deliver high-quality and trustworthiness (both in staffing and stock), and only have current information and up-to-date or historically relevant stock in it. Our stock is not great. We have only had a budget for standing orders in the last couple of years, and even before that we didn’t have much. A lot of our information is online these days, in online subscription databases or through Google. That means a lot of our customers don’t even come to the actual library. I believe we need to re-think and make better use of our space. Get rid of out-dated stuff and make it shiny.

Due to lack of a proper plan or policy my criteria at the moment are:

  • if it hasn’t been used in two years it needs looking at (there are labels in the front but I don’t think users record that they’ve used anything),
  • if it’s older than four years it has to disappear from the reading room, unless it’s historically relevant and not scruffy,
  • if it’s the last copy in the system it might be allowed to live in the stack, but only if it’s historically relevant, can’t be found (free) online, and we don’t have a more recent copy,
  • if it’s scruffy it needs replacing or throwing. If there’s a better copy in the system I’ll try and get that one for our reference library.

Do you have a stock policy for your reference department? What are the main points in it?

Where next? Should we offer more on how to evaluate information, help people find information online, offer learning sessions? Must not take on too much too soon – stock first.

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