Like most contemporary academic libraries, St. Olaf College’s Rolvaag Library is bursting at its proverbial seams, housing more than 100 years of collected materials. Like our peers, we’re actively working to invite other campus entities (the Writing Center, Student Support Services, Oral Communication) to share our workspaces, and create collaborative spaces for student learning and research. And like many peers, we underwent expansions in the 1960s and 1990s, but won’t see future space for housing collections.
The “simple” answer to these challenges: WEED (though every librarian knows these are infamous last words). Our collection of nearly 500,000 books had never been systematically weeded or assessed. Additionally, we’ve been the primary book repository for significant portion of the Norwegian-American immigrant community. And while the Rolvaag Library’s primary mission has been support of the College’s undergraduate curriculum, we share our campus with important partner libraries – the archives of the Norwegian-American Historical Association, and the College Archives – which over the years have had shifting relationships regarding the housing of materials. How then, would we effectively assess material in the general collection, identify criteria for both de-selection and preservation, and design and implement efficient workflows and positive outcomes, without creating a multi-faceted workflow-PR-and preservation nightmare?
We took our cues from Janus, the two-faced Roman god of beginnings and transitions. Looking to both the future and the past, we carried out an assessment of our collections and designed a nearly-automated de-selection program that neatly dovetails with aggressive efforts to identify, segregate and protect our heritage collections. This presentation will describe our two-pronged approach, including research, communication and buy-in from stakeholder groups; documentation and code creation; workflow and work assignments; and the significant outcomes we’ve achieved to date in the creation of physical spaces for our community, and the enhancement of our Special Collections. Handouts included!