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Collection Management

De-accessioning library material, i.e. Weeding


As librarians, part of our job is to ensure the thoroughness, relevance, timeliness, and usefulness of the library collections. Weeding ensures that the materials that remain in the collection are useful and accessible. Our collection needs to be continually changing to reflect changes in the curriculum, society, and the library’s goals.

Why Weed?

There are any number of reasons that libraries undertake weeding projects. Most libraries do this because of limited space. But other reasons include:

  1. Increasing the appeal of the books that remain, which increases the use of materials. Students are more likely to use visually appealing materials.
  2. Saving the time of the patrons and the staff. Students can find relevant and useful materials more easily and staff can reshelve books more efficiently.
  3. Improving our reputation for reliability and currency by removing obsolete and inaccurate materials.
  4. Removing books in poor physical condition for repair, replacement, or reshelving in Special Collections.
  5. Encouraging browsing by removing musty, dusty, outdated materials.
  6. Eliminating items no longer relevant to the curriculum.
  7. Reducing redundancy by removing duplicate copies and unnecessary previous editions.
  8. Making space for other learning spaces necessary for today’s students.
  9. Allowing libraries to identify those materials that are so esoteric that most people would not use them.
  10. Allowing libraries to identify gaps in the collection.

Our Process

Librarians will work with faculty from each of the programs to develop the criteria which the librarians will use for weeding. 

We will only review materials that have not circulated since a given date (e.g. 2002). The date is determined based on the topic and type of material.  

Librarians will review all books again after they are pulled from the shelves and before they are actually withdrawn from the collection.

Although the process is not infallible, we're willing to work to correct any weeding errors.

Where do weeded books go?

We send the books to Better World Books – an organization that donates books to third world countries, provides funding for global literacy, works with over 3,000 libraries nationwide, and resells books.  Books that do not get donated or sold are recycled to reduce the carbon footprint.

They work with literacy programs like Room to Read, Books for Africa, Worldfund, National Center for Family Literacy, and 80 other literacy partners.

More information about Better World Books.