Project wrap-up – July 31, 2014

June 30 marked the official end of the Wesleyan University Library weeding project. After 3 ½ years of planning, discussion, selection, deselection and shifting, the library has met its target of creating 60,000-volumes worth of shelf space for growth and the move of the Art Library collection into Olin.

What did we do?

  • 46,000 books were withdrawn, out of the 90,000 books that met the initial criteria for withdrawal candidates. Many faculty members participated in the cWeeding graphareful review of the candidates in their subject areas, selecting books to be retained. All of the librarians reviewed some or all of the candidates as well, for retention as well as possible transfer to Special Collections & Archives.
  • 4,000 bound journal volumes were withdrawn. These were selected for withdrawal because they are available electronically in JSTOR and contain few or no illustrations or graphics that might be missing or of poor quality in the electronic version.
  • 18,000 volumes-worth of shelf space was created by adding high shelves to the government documents section on the ground floor of Olin, and shelving little-used materials in that collection on the high shelves. These materials are being essentially ‘stored in place,’ and can be retrieved by request just as any other books in storage are retrievable.
  • 8,500 volumes in the ‘A’ classification were moved to a small storage area in the PAC. These volumes are also retrievable by request.

In all, over 76,000 volumes-worth of shelf space was created, which is allowing us not only to bring the Art Library collection into Olin and to add new books for several years, but to ease the overcrowding on shelves which can lead to damage when books are pulled out or mold problems due to lack of airflow.

Who was involved?

Every member of the library staff was involved in the project in one way or another, and each person brought their expertise to bear on the work they did, as well as their commitment to be a responsible steward of Wesleyan’s collections. I was going to mention each person individually, but it really would end up being a list of library staff! Our custodians cleaned shelves and stack areas (pulling, shifting and adjusting shelves kicks up a lot of dust and dirt!). Librarians worked with faculty to identify withdrawal candidates to be retained, to selectively withdraw duplicate copies of books, review books for possible transfer to Special Collections and Archives, repair damaged books to be retained, and to collaborate in overall project planning and management. Library staff pulled withdrawn volumes, updated catalog records, reclassified and relabeled books, oversaw the shift and moving of collections in all three libraries, and managed the book sales and disposition of remaining books.

We hired two people specifically for the project. Melissa Behney was hired to work in Olin Reference, freeing up the time of other librarians to work on the weeding project. When the Science Librarian position became available in early 2013, Melissa was selected for the position and is now a permanent member of the staff. Morain Miller was hired in the summer of 2012 to process withdrawn books and to work with Stacks Manager Randy Wilson on the resulting shifts and moves in Olin, SciLi and the Art Library. We are grateful to Morain and Melissa for their hard work, dedication and collegiality!

What is happening this summer?

Immediately after Commencement a crew from W. B. Meyer came in to do a shift of all eight Olin stack floors, to distribute the free shelf space throughout the stacks and to make room for the Art Library collection. Olin and Art had a small number of books in LC classes Q – V; these books were moved to the Science Library. The initial Olin stack shift was completed in early July and Stacks Manager Randy Wilson and his students will be making final adjustments in the next few months.

Also in early July the Art Library collections were moved into Olin and inter-shelved with the existing Art collections here. Most of the reunited collections—aside from some oversize volumes on floor 3A—are on the second floor of Olin, and study spaces are being created on that floor with the needs of Art students in mind. By the end of the summer, we anticipate that the new study and office spaces will be complete and ready for the new year!

What’s next?

No more weeding - cookies from Fusion Bakery

No more weeding – cookies from Fusion Bakery

This project has not been easy or without controversy. The 2014 MISO survey elicited many comments from faculty who remain skeptical of the project, how it was conducted, and its possible deleterious effects on their research and the work of their students. One concern expressed again and again throughout the project was, “Yes, the books being considered for withdrawal are held by at least 30 other libraries in the United States—for now. But what if some or all of those libraries decide to withdraw their copies?” A few years ago the CTW Consortium took the first step in addressing this concern by establishing a Memorandum of Agreement that the last copy of a book in the Consortium would not be withdrawn without consultation with the other two libraries.

This year Wesleyan University Library is in the first cohort of libraries participating in the establishment of EAST, the Eastern Academic Scholars’ Trust. EAST will be a shared depository of scholarly monographs in print—each participating library will commit to retaining certain scholarly books in their collections, and making these available to other members of the trust through interlibrary loan or other means. Similar depositories are being set up elsewhere, all with the objective of preserving access to print monographs used in research, scholarship and academia.

Later this year the library will institute a low-level, ongoing weeding process, to maintain a certain amount of growth space and eventually (and only when electronic books have improved enough to be easy to use for scholarly purposes) to create additional innovative study and work spaces for Wesleyan students and faculty.  Before the process is instituted, we will thoroughly review the plan with the Library Faculty Advisory Committee and Academic Affairs.  And we will be eliciting your feedback via emails to the faculty forum, meetings and this blog.


Thanks to all of you who participated in this project by reviewing lists, making suggestions and expressing your concerns.

Posted in Project update | Leave a comment

Project update, December 20, 2013

It is hard to believe that we are approaching the end of this project!  We anticipate reaching our target of 60,000-volumes worth of space created in Olin Library by the end of January, 2013.  Here’s what we’ve been doing this fall:

1. Consultants:  We had two subject specialists come in to review books for possible withdrawal.  Jeff Kaimowitz completed his review of Greek and Roman classical studies books in the storage collection in the basement of the Science Library.  Many of these have not yet been added to the library’s online catalog and so were not considered in Round 2 of the project.   Jeff has flagged books that might be withdrawn; these will be available for faculty review early in the spring semester.

Ellen Embardo reviewed withdrawal in English and American literature that were marked ‘Keep an edition’ by faculty in Round 2.  Works we hold in only one edition were retained, and Ellen reviewed works for which we hold multiple editions to identify possible withdrawal candidates.  Alec McLane and Sally Grucan, Wesleyan librarians who select English and American literature, will next review the candidates selected by Ellen.

2. Print journal volumes:  We have re-considered two large journal sets for withdrawal: The Nation and The Economist.  We now provide access to the electronic version of these journals through a stable, reliable online vendor.

3. PAC storage: In the basement of the Public Affairs Center there is a room that used to hold storage collections.  The library cleared out this space several years ago after installing compact shelving in the basement of the Science Library; we have now refurbished the space to hold little used sets with call numbers from AG – AP93 (paper indexes, old general reference works, etc.).   These will be moved to PAC storage in January.

4. Duplicates:  Librarians responsible for selecting in certain subject areas have been reviewing books for which we have two or more copies to determine which additional copies can be withdrawn.  This has proven more time-consuming than we anticipated, and so we have not identified as many copies to withdraw as we had hoped to do.

5. Science Library:  In January, a small number of books in Olin with call numbers beginning Q – V will be moved to SciLi and inter-shelved with books on the second floor (Shelf space to do so was created over the summer in a shift of the Science Library collection and the addition of some shelving to the second floor.)  Books in SciLi with a call number beginning TR (Photography), will be moved to Olin Library.

As you can see from the graph, we will have reached our 60,000-volume space target by the end of January:

weeding131220Once the move has taken place and things have settled down, we will begin an ongoing, low-level weeding process—we will keep you informed about this using this blog.

This spring the library will be working with Construction Services and others to plan the move of the Art Library in the summer.  We will be providing more details about the plans as they evolve.

Thanks to all of you who have participated in the project—your suggestions, comments and expressions of concern have been invaluable.  Have a good holiday break and a happy 2014!

Posted in Project update | Leave a comment

Project update, September 6, 2013

We made a lot of progress on the weeding project this summer:

Round 3 withdrawals:  We finalized the list of Round 3 withdrawal candidates (with call numbers beginning with H – N or Q – Z) that were not marked for retention by faculty or librarians, and have withdrawn almost all of the books.  They are now on the weeded book shelves in Olin; faculty and students can take weeded books until the Friends Book Sale on Nov. 2.

‘Keep an edition’:  In the first three rounds, there were many withdrawal candidates marked by faculty or librarians to ‘Keep an edition,’ meaning that the library should retain at least one edition of a work when we hold multiple editions.  This summer we reviewed these and marked to retain all books for which we hold only one copy/edition.  We then brought in a subject specialist to review the remaining books, the bulk of which were in the Ps (Languages & Literatures), to recommend which editions to retain.

Duplicate copies:  Our selectors have been reviewing books for which we have more than one copy, to determine which duplicate copies to withdraw (if any).  This review will continue through the end of this calendar year.

Adding shelves:  We have added shelves to the ground floor stacks in Olin where government documents are located and shifted books onto these shelves, gaining about 1,200 shelves-worth of space with room for approximately 18,000 volumes.  The books now on the high shelves are effectively in storage (a kind of ‘storage in place’); we will retrieve books on these shelves for patrons who cannot reach them.

Science Library:  The Round 3 withdrawals in classes Q-T made it possible to do a major shift of Science Library books on the second floor to give oversize books adequate shelf space.  The map cases, which used to be on the first floor of SciLi, were moved to the ground floor and reorganized for easier access.  Some of the furniture that had been on the ground floor was moved to the first floor, creating a sunny, spacious seating/study area.

Here are the latest counts:

Latest statistics

Questions, comments, concerns?  Contact us via email at, or call Pat Tully, University Librarian at extension 3887.

Posted in Project update | Leave a comment

Project update, May 14, 2013

The faculty review of the Round 3 withdrawal candidate lists ended on March 31—once again thanks to all of you who took the time to review the lists!  By now you’re familiar with the schedule; here’s what will happen when:

May 2013:  The librarians are now completing a last review of the Round 3 lists now; later this month we will retain all books that have received one or more marks to ‘Keep this copy,’ and finalize the list of books to be withdrawn.

June-August, 2013:  Over the summer we will pull and process these books for withdrawal, and put them on the weeded book shelves in Olin.

July-October, 2013:  Withdrawn books will be available for faculty to take for their office or departmental collections until Homecoming weekend.

November 2, 2013:  The remaining withdrawn books will be offered in the Friends of the Wesleyan Library fall book sale.

November 4, 2013:  B-Logistics will pick up the remaining Round 3 books to be sold or recycled.

When the third round is complete, we project that we will have withdrawn approximately 38,635 volumes.  This is 21,365 volumes short of our target:

vol. weeded by round

How are we planning to meet the target by spring 2014?

This summer and fall we are planning a number of projects to help us get there:

–          Review of multiple editions:  In the first three rounds, a significant number of volumes were marked ‘Keep an edition,’ but not ‘Keep this copy.’  We have reviewed these and are retaining all books for which we only have a single edition.  This summer, subject specialists will review the remaining books for which we have multiple editions to determine if any might be withdrawn.

–          Review of duplicate copies:  We did this several years ago with books for which we have more than two copies; this summer we will review books for which we have more than one copy, to determine which duplicate copies might be withdrawn.

–          Adding shelves:  On the ground floor of Olin, the government document stacks have the capacity to hold additional shelves.  This summer we will add shelves to this section and then do a major shift of government documents to free shelf space.

We hope to be able to provide an update soon on plans for moving the Art Library.  In the meantime, have a good summer everyone!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

If you missed the latest A(T)R …

… you didn’t!  Here is the14-minute presentation:

(Click on ‘Start Prezi,’ then the ‘play’ icon in the bottom, left-hand corner to play the presentation from beginning to end.)

Posted in Project update | Leave a comment

UPDATE: Rounds 2, 3 – and 4

First the bad news:  As of January, 2013, we have withdrawn 21,398 volumes.  This is about a third of the way to our 60,000-volume withdrawal target.  Since the total number of Round 3 withdrawal candidates is only 36,018, this is of significant concern.  But we are making plans to address the issue.  First a few updates:

Round 2

The Round 2 withdrawal lists (books with call numbers beginning with P: Languages and Literatures) are finalized, and books not marked to retain are now being withdrawn.  Once they are processed, the withdrawn books will be made available for faculty to take for their office or department collections.  Any books remaining will be offered in a book sale sometime in May.

Total volumes on the Round 2 withdrawal candidate lists


     –          Candidates with one or more marks to ‘Keep this copy.’  These will be retained.


     –          Candidates marked ‘Keep an edition’.  These will be reviewed by a librarian and at least one edition of the work will be retained.


     –          Candidates with no marks to retain, but that are part of sets or series.  These will be reviewed by a librarian (see this example of such a review) to determine whether they could be withdrawn.


Round 2 initial withdrawals – single-volume works with no marks to retain.


Round 3

is underway, and the withdrawal candidate lists will be available for faculty review through March 31.  It covers all subjects not covered in the first two rounds:

H – Social sciences, including economics, sociology, social history, social theory

J – Political science and government

K – Law

L – Education

M – Music

N – Fine arts

Q – Sciences and mathematics

R – Medicine

S – Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting

T – Technology, engineering, photography, crafts

U, V – Military and naval science and organization

Z – Libraries and librarianship, information science, bibliographies

The Z class (from Z 1011 on) includes a variety of subject bibliographies that may be of interest to many who are not librarians.

After the March 31 deadline faculty review of Round 3 lists the librarians will review them one last time.  Then all the volumes with marks to ‘Keep this copy’ will be removed from the list, and the withdrawal list finalized.  The books will be pulled over the summer, offered to faculty in the early fall of 2013, and any remaining books sold in the Friends book sale in October.

Round 4

In order to meet the 60,000-volume withdrawal target, we will conduct a Round 4.

Originally, Round 4 was to be a review of withdrawal candidates that had received a single mark to ‘Keep this copy,’ to determine which might be withdrawn.  However, both faculty and librarians have said that this would negate much of the careful review they have done in the first three rounds.  There are many subject areas for which only one Wesleyan faculty member is knowledgeable, and it is essential for the integrity of the collection that their decisions be respected.  So we will retain volumes that have received one or more marks to retain; they will not be included in the Round 4 review.

What will be reviewed for Round 4 withdrawal?  We’re still in the planning stage, but here are a few ideas:

–          Bound periodical volumes for which we have stable online equivalents other than JSTOR.   (We continue to selectively withdraw bound volumes with JSTOR equivalents; this would be an expansion to other stable online journal providers.)

–          Duplicate copies of books of which we have two or more copies.

–          Books on the withdrawal candidate lists that received a mark to ‘Keep an edition,’ but not to ‘Keep this copy.’

We will begin Round 4 in the fall of 2013.

If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, please contact me at, or 860-685-3887, or any member of the Weeding Committee.

Posted in Weeding Round 1, Weeding Round 2, Weeding Round 3, Weeding Round 4 | Leave a comment

The other side of the coin …

In the summer of 2011 we worked with Sustainable Collection Services (SCS) to develop criteria for the withdrawal candidates and compile lists of books that meet these criteria.  But we were also interested in identifying books that we should retain.  We asked SCS to run a list of books that: 1) are held by fewer than 5 other U.S. libraries; and 2) that are not held by any other library in Connecticut.

12,216 books meet these criteria, out of the 825,000 books in our circulating collections (about 1.5%).  They include books published in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but also many twentieth and some twenty-first century works.  Authors include Horatio Alger, Charles & Mary Lamb, Spike Milligan, Rafael Sabatini, Rabindranath Tagore, Alan Watts, John Wesley, and Émile Zola.  A wide variety of subject areas are represented, with call numbers in every Library of Congress class.  It is a fascinating mix of obscure works by little-known authors and rare editions of the classics.

Michaelle Biddle, Collections Conservator & Head of Preservation Services, and Suzy Taraba, Director of Special Collections & Archives, are reviewing the list to determine which books should be transferred to Special Collections.  Some of the books are not as rare as our catalog indicates. Several are photocopies—while they contain valuable content for scholarly use, they lack the value as an artifact that the original would have had.  Others are a different, more common edition than the catalog indicates, and we are changing these catalog records to match the books.

But many books on the list are, in fact, original and rare.  These are being transferred to Special Collections & Archives where they will be permanently retained.  (The Special Collections & Archives blog will be featuring some of these books soon, if you want to know more.)

The number of rare books we hold is a testament to the depth and range of Wesleyan’s library collections.  We take seriously, and have always taken seriously, our responsibility to support the wide range of scholarly work done by Wesleyan students and faculty.  We are also committed to preserving rare books in their original form for Wesleyan and non-Wesleyan students and scholars.

Posted in Background, Preservation | Tagged | Leave a comment

A Platonic dilemma …

This past winter the library hired Melissa Behney, a reference librarian with extensive experience in academic libraries, to assist with the weeding project.   Melissa has helped us in a variety of ways, but she has truly done yeoman’s service in her review of Round 1 books marked ‘Keep an edition.’

To explain, on the withdrawal candidate lists faculty can mark a book in two ways: ‘Keep this copy,’ or ‘Keep an edition.’  Any book with a mark to ‘Keep this copy’ has been retained and a code placed in the catalog record for future reference.  A mark to ‘Keep an edition’ indicates that at least one edition of a work should be kept, but not necessarily the edition on the list.

We have not pulled books marked ‘Keep an edition,’ but asked Melissa to review them to determine which of them the library holds in multiple copies/printings/editions, and, of these, which might be withdrawn while keeping one or more editions of the work.

It sounds, well, fairly simple—until you come to an author like Plato.  Specifically The Dialogues of Plato, translated by B. Jowett.  Melissa found that the library holds 7 different versions of this work, including three different versions of the third edition.  Each version was published in several volumes; the library holds all the volumes of some editions and only some volumes of others.

What to keep and what to withdraw?  There is a lot to consider:

–          The 4th edition was published in 4 volumes in 1964, and all the volumes have circulated 6 or more times in the past 15 years.  None were on the withdrawal candidate list, and all will be retained.

–          The two-volume 1937 reprint of the 3rd edition, is held by 1,417 other libraries—more by far than other editions of this work.  Our two copies of v.1—the only volume we hold—have circulated a total of 15 times in the past 15 years.  The copies have also been on reserve.  We will retain these copies, and consider acquiring v. 2 as well.

–          The 1924 printing of the 3rd edition, in 5 volumes, is held by 70 libraries.  We have v. 1, 3, 4 and 5, of which v.5 has circulated once and v.4 has circulated 42 times in the past 15 years.

–          The 1892 printing of the 3rd edition, also in 5 volumes, is held by 115 libraries.  We have v. 3, 4, and 5, none of which have circulated in the last 15 years.

–          The 5-volume 2nd edition, published by Clarendon Press in 1875, is held by 134 libraries. Our copy is in compact storage in the basement of the Science Library, and has not circulated in the last 15 years.

–          The one-volume World’s Great Classics, published by The Colonial Press in 1899, is held by 147 libraries and has circulated 5 times in the last 15 years.

–          A 4-volume set published by Bigelow Brown with no publication date or edition, is held by 100 libraries.  We have v. 1, 3 and 4.  Volume 1 has not circulated; v.3 has circulated 8 times, and v. 4 has circulated 6 times in the past 15 years.

Melissa and Kendall Hobbs, liaison to the Philosophy Dept., have gone into the stacks to review all these sets, and have made decisions about what to retain and withdraw.

Wait until we get to Shakespeare …

Posted in Project update, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Working in the withdrawal candidate lists

We have received a few questions about how to work with the withdrawal candidate lists; here are some tips:

‘Keep this copy’ v. ‘Keep an edition’:  You have two options for marking a book for retention.  ‘Keep this copy’ indicates that you want this specific edition of the book retained—with this editor, translator, introduction, commentary, etc.  ‘Keep an edition’ indicates that you want an edition of the work retained, but not necessarily this edition of the work.  In the case of a translation, it means that you want a translation of the work in this language, but not necessarily by the same translator.

In Round 1, some books were marked ‘Keep this copy,’ others ‘Keep an edition,’ and some had marks for both.  Books marked ‘Keep this copy’ have been retained.  Books marked only to ‘Keep an edition’ will be reviewed separately to determine how many editions and copies we have of a work, and which to retain in the library’s collection.

Sorting the lists:  The withdrawal candidate lists are in order alphabetically by author, and then by title.  You can re-sort the list to make it easier to review, by clicking ‘Sort by’ under the appropriate column.  Why would you do this?

A Publication Year sort allows you to review the older (or the newer) books on the list.

A CallNum (Call number) sort allows you to review the list by broad subject areas.

A Title sort allows you to review the list for specific titles.

If you have marked titles, click the ‘Submit Changes’ button before sorting or re-sorting; otherwise your marks will be lost.

Keeping track:  Some lists are fairly small and easy to review in a single session; others are quite large.  If you have not finished reviewing a list and want to go back to it, make a note to yourself where you’ve left off and how you’ve sorted it if you’ve done a re-sort.  Then click the ‘Submit Changes’ button before leaving the list.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please contact the library liaison for your department or program, or send an email to

Posted in Tips and tricks | Tagged | Leave a comment

Round 1 ends; Round 2 begins …

The Round 1 withdrawal candidate lists (for books with call numbers beginning with A – G) were closed for faculty review on May 31.  Librarians are just completing their final review of the lists this week.  We will then delete from the withdrawal candidate lists any books marked by a faculty member or librarian to be retained, and provide the final lists to our Access Services staff.  They will begin pulling and processing the books to be withdrawn.   Once they have been withdrawn, they will be available for faculty to take for their offices—we will send an announcement to that effect to the faculty forum listserv.

Here are the data on Round 1:

Total books on initial Round 1 weeding candidate lists:


Books marked ‘Keep this copy’ or ‘Keep an edition’ (both will be retained for now):


Round 1 books to be withdrawn:


Percentage of Round 1 candidates that will be withdrawn:


Percentage of the 60,000-volume target met by Round 1:


Our objective is to reach our target by the end of Round 3; this percentage does not quite put us on track to meet that target.  But scholarship in several of the subjects covered in Round 1—including philosophy, religion and history—is largely monograph-based.  This is not as much the case in some other disciplines, particularly those covered in Round 3.  We anticipate that a larger percentage of books in these disciplines will be approved to withdraw.

Round 2 review begins:  The withdrawal candidate lists for Round 2 are available for review by current and emeritus faculty and librarians:  Just log in using your Wesleyan user name and password.  Round 2 focuses on the Library of Congress P classification: Languages and Literatures.  Works of fiction and literature in all languages are included, as well as books on philology, linguistics, poetry, essays, drama and critical works.

The Round 2 lists will be available for faculty to review and to marks books for retention until October 31, 2012.  Librarians who are liaisons/selectors for these disciplines are reviewing and marking the lists as well.

If you have any questions or concerns about Round 2 or the weeding project, please get in touch with the liaison for your department or program, or contact me directly at; x3887.

Posted in Project update, Uncategorized, Weeding Round 1, Weeding Round 2 | Tagged , , | Leave a comment