The process of removing books from libraries, commonly known among librarians as “weeding,” also known as “deselection” or “deaccessioning,” can be a cause of concern to some library patrons. However there are good reasons to consider titles or even class numbers for removal. This practice is advised by writers of library standards; such standards are relied upon by accrediting agencies for guidance concerning the evaluations of library programs. An example of such advice is contained in “Standards for College Libraries, 1986” (College & Research Libraries News 47: March 1986, p. 192):
The library collection should be continually evaluated against standard bibliographies and evolving institutional requirements for purposes both of adding new titles and identifying for withdrawal those titles which have outlived their usefulness. No title shall be retained for which a clear purpose is not evident in terms of academic programs or extra-curricular enrichment.
As is stated in its Collection Development/Selection policy, the library staff of Mary Livermore Library seeks to conduct systematic reviews of library materials. During these periodic reviews some materials will be identified as candidates for withdrawal. Review of materials may be prompted by shelving considerations.
As is stated in its Mission Statement, the main function of the Mary Livermore Library is to serve as a support unit for The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and it seeks to secure and house informational resources relevant to the University curriculum. Therefore, the deselection policies, procedures, and guidelines which follow have been formulated to correspond with both the Collection Development/Selection policy and the mission statement of the Mary Livermore Library. Faculty subject area expertise is sought in the deselection process as discussed below.
Guidelines for Deselection:
The following guidelines shall govern consideration for deselection of library materials:
(1) Physical Condition
a. Deterioration of paper or binding
b. Damage to the extent that the item is no longer usable
c. Part of the item is missing (such as an accompanying computer or compact disk), making the work as a whole unsuitable for use
(2) Collection Development and/or Management
a. Unnecessary multiple copies (usually exceeding two)
b. Questionable currency, comprehensiveness, accuracy, and/or suitability of material
c. Incomplete set or run of a series
d. Items purchased to support programs no longer offered by the University and for which no current demand exists and are unlikely to be of scholarly interest in the future of the University
e. Lack of consistency with collection development policies
(3) Patterns of Use
a. Older works which are not classic, which make no contribution to the literature of a given field and which have not been used in the past ten years, as exemplified by last circulation date or perceived usage (as would be the case with reference materials)
b. Periodicals which receive low use by patrons in the most recent two-year period and are not included in indexes or abstracts which Mary Livermore Library owns or has ready access to; possible exceptions may be made for items likely to be of significance for scholarly or historical purposes
Procedures for Deselection:
1. Assignments of LC Classification areas to librarians for deselection responsibilities will be made by the Collection Development/Electronic Resources Librarian, with the charge to review the area as needed for weeding on a continuing basis.
2. In addition to considering the above-stated criteria for deselection, the librarian will consult the most recent edition of Resources for College Libraries, The Best Books for Academic Libraries, and other selection tools when considering titles for removal. If a title is contained in this standard work, it should remain on the shelf unless it is in poor physical condition, in which case it should be left on the shelf and an order card for replacement prepared, with a notation made that the older book should be removed when the replacement arrives.
3. Items identified for weeding should be placed on a cart and transported to the office of the librarian who has identified the items or to a well marked section in the sorting room with notes made on a slip inserted in books as appropriate concerning reason(s) for deselection.
4. Faculty expertise should be solicited concerning the advisability of weeding a book by placement of a call by the librarian to the academic department most likely to be concerned with the subject content of the book. The department should be asked to send a representative within a month. During the regular academic year, faculty should also be notified by their library liaisons.
5. If no faculty member appears or if no objections are raised, the books will be physically prepared for deaccessioning, as described in 8., below.
6. If a faculty member states that a book should be returned to the shelf, then it should be returned to the shelf. If faculty members ask that items be sent to their departments, the first to ask will receive the item(s) following deaccessioning. Physical Plant personnel should be called to deliver the items that cannot be sent through campus mail.
7. In the case of periodicals, the Serials/Digital Projects Librarian should follow the same procedures concerning contacting faculty, if retrospective issues of periodicals are being considered for removal.
8. When books have been cleared for final processing in the deselection process, they are then prepared for transportation to technical services for deaccessioning. Books not in the computerized database are prepared as follows:
1. the call number on the label is marked with a felt tip pen;
2. “W/D” or “withdrawn” is written on the inside front cover of the book;
3. books are then delivered to the Coordinator of Cataloging Services, who will direct the deaccessioning process.
9. Materials will then be disposed of in one of the following ways:
1. they will be sent to an academic department if so requested;
2. they will be offered to other state agencies or libraries if deemed appropriate by the librarian who weeded or the Collection Development/ Electronic Resources Librarian;
3. the librarian who weeded the items or the Collection Development/ Electronic Resources Librarian will decide if the items are suitable for the Mary Livermore Library book sale and, if so, will arrange for placement of the items in the storage room near government documents or the disposal of such books;
4. if none of the above methods of disposal is used, the items will be placed near the back door of the Library, for removal by the housekeeping or maintenance staff.