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Weeding and Disposal

A quality library offers learners a dynamic collection of materials that are carefully selected to meet student needs.  Materials on a library’s shelves, as well as digital resources, should be continuously and systematically evaluated for relevance, timeliness, and appeal. A smaller collection that is good, attractive, and used is a greater credit to the school than a large number of books that tend to remain on the shelves because of poor format or content. Systematic weeding is an integral part of book selection. The American Library Association recommends that 5% of a collection be weeded annually.   

Weeding is an ongoing part of the collection development process.  Consider it de-selection, a process of evaluating and sometimes withdrawing materials that are rarely used, contain inaccurate or dated information, are in poor physical condition, or are no longer relevant to curriculum or student or faculty needs.   

San Angelo Independent School District should contain current, useful, attractive materials.  Weeding should be a conscious, ongoing process.  The CREW Method:  Expanded Guidelines for Collection Evaluation and Weeding for Small and Medium-Sized Public Libraries, revised and updated by Belinda Boon, Texas State Library, 1995, is the recommended guide.

Rationale for Weeding

Weeding allows a school library to:

  • Present a more appealing, inviting, and easier-to-use collection
  • More effectively utilize limited space
  • Ensure that library users access current, accurate information
  • Correct past mistakes in the selection process
  • Dispel the illusion of a sizable collection when critical need exists for new resources
  • Identify materials in need of repair or replacement
  • Eliminate outdated material or material that has been superseded

What to weed:

The following guidelines should be considered. 

Eight Critical C’s to Consider in Weeding: 

CONDITION: Is the material too beat-up, worn out, or simply too icky or ugly to borrow?  Would anyone really want to borrow it? Is it worth repairing?  Is it repairable? 

COPYRIGHT:  Is it too old to be relevant?  Remember the relevance of copyright will vary in different areas of the collection.  History and folktales have far longer shelf lives than technology and health materials!  Pay special attention before weeding books that are out-of-print.

CURRICULUM and CONTENT:  Does this material support your curriculum or student or faculty interests?  Is it on current reading lists?  Is it a primary source? 

CIRCULATION:  Has the material moved? How recently was it borrowed, referred to, or assigned?  Use your circulation statistics to seriously evaluate books that have not circulated in the past five years. 

CLASSICS:  Is the book a classic, award winner, or of historic or literary significance?  Does the author have unique authority? Is the illustrator noted? Is it included in standard collection development tools?  

CONFUSING:  Is the item culturally or factually “dated,” inaccurate, or obsolete?  Does it contain gender or ethnic stereotyping? 

COMMUNITY: Does the item have special relevance to the community?  Does it deal with local history? Is it a memorial gift? 

COPIES:  Do you have far too many copies of an item no longer in great demand, or perhaps it is no longer required reading?  Is it redundant?