Charles Cutter from the Forbes Library in Northampton, said in a Library Journal article, “…an unused book is not even good. The library should be a practical thing to be used, not an ideal to be admired.” People don’t have the time or patience to look for books on shelves crammed with outdated shabby books. The overflowing shelves, carts filled with books, and desks piled high with mending simply give an overall impression of chaos.”

Overview of weeding and replacement activities by Collection Development staff

In the 2007/2008 selection year, Collection Development staff are making changes to the way we manage weeding and replacement. The changes are driven by two interests: selectors want to be more responsive to collection needs and the floating collection environment makes it easier for all staff to manage collections.

Replacements will be done by selectors on an ongoing basis all year long, rather than by a schedule. This change acknowledges that library customers do not, or cannot, wait for our replacement cycle to obtain the materials they need.

Collection Development staff are scheduled to weed in community libraries throughout the year. Weeding projects are suggested by selectors with guidance from district managers and community library managers.

Weeding projects for 2008 and 2009 include the following:

More information about weeding is available here.

Here are a number of resources on weeding culled from around the web.

Weed It! For an Attractive and Useful Collection

From the Western Massachusetts Regional Library System this page from which I cribbed the above quotation has great information about why weeding is necessary, the whole Nicholson Baker — San Francisco Public Library flap, how to get staff and the public to be in favor of weeding. This is a good beginning point for anyone looking for talking points about the basics of weeding a library collection. Good stuff and as a bonus its well written and timely.

Unweeded collections often contain unacceptable stereotypes. Sexist and racist materials are frequently found in collections that haven’t been weeded. For instance, The First Book of Elections containing repeated references to “the best man in office” or “may the best man win” sends the very pervasive message that women don’t belong in public office.”

Weeding the Collection (ABLE)

Part of Idaho’s (ABLE) Alternative Basic Library Education program, this “…course is designed for members of the library community who do not have formal library training. It will help you understand and use systematic methods for weeding your library’s collection.

The course is divided into five sections. Each section has one or more web pages, plus a self-evaluation test. You will typically move ahead in the course by correctly answering the last question on each self-evaluation. The course takes approximately one and one half hours to complete. “

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