Most of the sessions I attended were those that I knew we are going to implement or undertake in the next few months. One of them is of course, weeding. This session hit home immediately because of our Netlibrary collection weeding project that was started last summer. This session is meant to be a "dialog" session with heads of collection from Texas A & M University, Ken Breen (Senior Ditector of e-book Products at EBSCO) and Matt Barnes (Vice-President of Marketing at ebrary).
They talk about the problem of ebooks that have outdated or superceded information and what we need to do to make them current. There are a few questions posed to the attendees and was the starting point for our dialogue:
Who is responsible for weeding ebooks?
Removing the titles from the library catalog is a pain (but doable), however, how do you removed those that are part of a shared collection such as consortium?
Who is responsible for weeding a shared collection?
How would libraries like to identify ebooks for weeding?
How can a library control access if it removed a title from the catalog but the item is still available in the vendor's database?
Why would you want to permanently delete an item?
What situation would work best for the library?
I spoke to the group about our dilemma with our Netlibrary records. I told Ken since they now own Netlibrary that it would be good if after we deleted the items in our catalog, they can in turn have a switch that can turn off visibility of these deleted records from our students. He said they have not thought about weeding when they moved the platform but now since there is a need for that, they would work towards that functionality.
We also heard from the research libraries' perspective, since they don't ever weed anything from their collection. They want to be able to identify those ebooks that they want weeded but still make it accessible for their faculty or researchers. They want to move these ebooks to a repository much like an online off-site storage so they can be accessed again. Again, these vendors have no way of doing this yet. Apparently, they were so caught up with producing books in electronic form, marketing them to libraries but neglecting the fact that one day some of them would have to be weeded.
In the end, the dialogue produced some lessons and recommendations, in particular:
Libraries mus evaluate their ebook collections regularly (especially if it is purchased)
Libraries mus work together to create best practices for evaluating and weeding ebook collections.
Librarians and vendors must work together to create workflow that is efficient for both.