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Collection Development Manual 2009
Circulating Collection Maintenance

General Weeding Policy

Reasons for Weeding

  • To identify and withdraw incorrect or outdated materials. Users are dependent on us to provide up-to-date information. Outdated medical, legal, travel, tax and educational information especially can cause serious problems for our users.
  • To remove from the collection those materials that are no longer being used. If we kept every item we bought we would probably need to build a new library every ten years. If the collection is full of materials that are not being used, our users cannot find the materials that they do want. Since we add approximately 11,000 items each year, we should be withdrawing somewhat less than that (taking into account attrition from other sources). Optimally, shelves should not be more than 3/4 full, with the top and bottom shelves empty as they are hard to reach.
  • To remove worn or damaged materials. Attractive, clean materials are preferred by all users and give the message that the library is a modern, up-to-date source of information. A well-maintained collection sends the message that we expect users to treat our materials with respect and return them in the good condition in which they were borrowed. Users appreciate a well-maintained collection and are more likely to support it with their tax dollars than they would support a library collection that looks like someone's old attic. Popular worn titles should be withdrawn and replaced with attractive newer editions. Classics will circulate heavily if they are clean and inviting.
  • To increase circulation. Paradoxically, decreasing the size of the collection often results in increasing circulation. Users find it difficult to find useful materials when the collection is overcrowded with outdated, unattractive, irrelevant materials. Weeding makes the "good stuff" more accessible. Death from overcrowding is a common result of collections that are not properly and regularly weeded.

The Weeding Process:

  1. Identify items that are candidates for weeding:
    • Train shelvers to remove shabby, outdated materials for consideration by the professional weeder.
    • Train menders to set aside poor candidates for mending for consideration by the professional weeder (replace if appropriate)
    • Train shelvers to use printouts of items not circulated in a certain amount of time (generally 1-5 years) to remove items for consideration by the professional weeder. Where appropriate, shelvers will note if there are other copies of the book, or other books on the subject on the shelf.
    • Examine (as per the weeding guidelines outlined in this manual) specific date sensitive areas (business, investment, science, medicine, law, technology, etc. and weed those items whose information is not current.
    • Weed subject areas where currency is less urgent, less often, but still on a regular basis, based on computer generated usage statistics and condition.
    • Encourage all professional staff to be on the alert for dated and superfluous materials. Expect staff to make suggestions for weeding and replacement on a continuing basis, for all areas of the collection, both print and nonprint.
  2. Physically prepare items to be withdrawn
  3. Remove items from the database.
  4. Order new and replacement titles as necessary.
Last updated: July 07, 2014
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