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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Weeding the German Language Collection

So I had my broken ID badge replaced and finally returned to weeding the world language titles in our fiction collection, finishing the German collection and weeding the first shelf of the French titles.  Some statistics:

  • I started with 313 German-language titles, and ended with 188--just over 60% of what I started with.  
  • I didn't compile an average on the last circulation, but suffice it to say that 10-15 years would have not been too far off.  
  • The most distant circulation date was April of 1980.
  • There were only 6 titles that had circulated during the previous 12 months.  Not saying much about interest in German-language modern fiction here in Philadelphia.
Now, you may be asking yourself, how did this man with almost no knowledge of German fiction (or for that matter, the German language), know which books to save and which ones to toss?  Fair question.  Here's what I did.
  1. I checked for the author's presence in SIRSI, our catalog system.  Oftentimes I'd keep a title if it had an English translation (or vice versa).
  2. I looked at the title through the eyes of Google Translate.  If there was an "aha!" moment--where I recognized the title from the English translation--I kept it in the mix.
  3. I looked for the author's and the title's presence online.  I discovered several Nobel Prize winners (as well as winners of other prominent prizes), and members of prominent writers' groups or movements. 
  4. THEN I checked circulation data.  So many titles showed less than ten check-outs over the course of 15-20 years, with almost none during the 2010's.
  5. I gave some titles the benefit of the doubt.  If, for instance, the author had been famous in another field, been a WWII resistance worker, or had written for other media (films, tv, radio), etc., sometimes I gave the book a second chance.
  6. Titles that had circulated at least once during the previous twelve months (yes, there were only six) were saved regardless of author, genre, quality, etc.
After chatting with my supervisors, they gave me the impression that I was on the right track, so onward with French-language fiction tomorrow.


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