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Saturday, September 5, 2015

What happens when your collection is weeded too much?

Have you noticed that when it is time to weed your collection, someone has already done some of it for you? The culprit is usually that customer/staff member who never returns a book and the online catalog automatically marks it as missing because it never moves (stolen or lost) or checked-out and never returned.  The rest of your job depends on you removing items from the collection that are incorrect, out-of-date, or damaged.  Sometimes it is difficult to do the weeding when all that is wrong with the items to be weeded is that you need to make space for more pertinent items for the collection.  What if you will need the library materials that you weeded but they are no longer in print or available for purchase?  What if you needed a certain book that you did not know that you needed until a customer walks through the door asking for it?  What if we had a back-up collection that could be stored in digital format?

The Strength of the Collection

Your collection depends on the materials covering the subject areas that are tied to the mission statement for your collection.  Whether they are current or dating back to the 1920’s, it depends as to why the library materials exist in your collection in the first place.  Once you have determined how much these materials make your collection stronger, then you will have to think about your options.  Ashley Eklöf, head librarian of BiblioTech (the first Digital Library in the United States), stated that BiblioTech’s   benefit was its “size. We are able to provide hundreds of thousands of digital items in areas of our country that until two years ago were "library deserts"”.

As libraries go where no libraries have gone before, the next few blogs will attempt to show how digital means can act as an adjunct to assist librarians in performing their jobs and not by replacing them.  One example is replacing lost but needed library materials, from the weeding process, through On Demand Publishing.   Through the Espresso Book Machine (EBM), library patrons can request and print the books they need for projects and avoid “large unused physical collections taking up large spaces within the library” (

“A library card is not needed to use the machine. To print a book, a flash drive is required containing two files: A full-color or black-and-white book cover in .pdf format and a black-and-white interior in .pdf format... Books must be at least 40 and no more than 830 pages” (

Sacramento Public Library offers its community “print-on-demand, self-publishing and writing/publishing classes” (    “The EBM is  a “book robot” that prints, binds and trims quality paperbacks in minutes. A high speed Black & White printer duplicates the inside of the book from the Title Page to the last page while a photo quality printer creates the cover. The EBM then glues the inside to the cover and trims the excess. Once completed a finished perfect-bound book is delivered. Books printed on the EMB are of the same high quality as books printed by any regular publisher” (  

Replacing Weeded or Missing Items

Local authors can print their books at the library and have a copy of their books added to the library’s “Local Authors Collection” (   The library could also replace titles through the EBM’s catalogue of ebook titles (including Google Public Domain Books) (    “[P]eople will use the machine mostly for personal printing, not necessarily books that are going to the library system. However, if people want to publish and sell their books, an international standard book number (ISBN) is required.”

In the future, when a customer wants to look up how to repair a car through, for example, a Chilton Auto Repair Manual, in the public library, libraries might be able to  go further by using 3-D printers to show physical schematics instead of a  two dimensional picture.   

Looking to the Future

In a future blog, I will attempt to give prices for printing books.   I will also discuss public domain and a copyright of books printed by the Espresso Book Machine.