Weeding (Deselection) Policy

Williams Library

Texas A&M University Galveston

June 2010

What is weeding?

Weeding a library is like weeding a garden; one looks over everything and carefully selects those things which need to be removed. In a library, weeding is a shelf-by-shelf and book-by-book review and withdrawal of certain books in a library's collection.

Why do we weed?

At the Williams Library, we need to weed the collection for many reasons. They include the necessity to keep the collection up-to-date and to keep the information available as accurate as possible. Another reason is that, as the curriculum of Texas A&M University Galveston evolves, the collection needs to evolve, in order to adequately support it. Books also wear out and fall apart. At other times, certain materials were added to the collection that no longer fit our collection development policy. For example, there are the multitudes of duplicate copies of many books, where a single or a couple of copies is now sufficient for our needs. For these reasons, there are always books and other materials that need to be removed from our collection.

Who decides what to weed?

The librarians are all information professionals, trained and experienced in the science of collection maintenance. Just like collection development, collection maintenance is also taught in graduate library programs. The professional librarians on the staff are assigned sections of the collection that most closely match their areas of expertise, education, and interests. Remember that, in addition to a master's degree in library and information science, all librarians have at least a bachelor's degree in a subject area other than professional librarianship, and some have additional graduate degrees and certifications in subject areas as well.

What happens when you weed a collection?

When members of the faculty or the professional library staff select material for withdrawal, the items will be checked against collection development tools such as Best Books for Academic Libraries. Any title found in Best Books will be returned to the shelf. If a librarian has a question about the removal of a book, a faculty member in the appropriate department will be contacted. If the faculty member believes the item selected for withdrawal should be retained, it will be returned to the shelf. If no feedback is received within two weeks, the items will be withdrawn from the collection.

How often does weeding occur?

We try to weed on an ongoing basis, only scheduling organized weeding when absolutely necessary.

Why do you sometimes weed during the breaks from classes?

A large organized weeding is a dirty and difficult job, as well as a somewhat noisy one. We sometimes schedule weeding activities during a time when the students are not on campus so that the professional library staff can all participate with a minimum of disruption to the students and other library patrons.

What input does the faculty have in the weeding process?

Faculty input is critical to the success of maintaining a viable library collection, and their input will be solicited and given full consideration. Notification will be sent to the appropriate Chair/s and faculty library representatives. They will be asked to notify the entire faculty in their departments. Interested faculty will be directed to a reviewing area of the library. The weeded books will be available for review during all hours that the library is open.

What if something important gets weeded?

Mistakes do happen on occasion, and what gets weeded is also often a matter of opinion. Books that meet the criteria for withdrawal may be something that is considered vital to a subject area by a faculty member. If the book hasn't been removed from the premises, we can reprocess it back into the collection. If it has, then it is too late to recover it. However, each department is given an annual budget for purchasing new books and materials by the Library. They can choose to replace weeded materials as they see fit. This is the most important reason why we welcome faculty members' participation in the weeding process.

What happens to the books that are weeded?

  • Gift Books – sent to Better World Books (betterworldbooks.com) if possible
  • Purchased with state funds – offer to transfer to faculty departments if wanted
  • Unwanted books will be shredded.

Can faculty have the weeded books?

Absolutely! Our only stipulation is that they ask first, so that we may make sure they have been fully processed and withdrawn from the collection.

Weeding Criteria

  • Format (available in other formats)
  • Duplication
  • Textbooks
  • Currency (when relevant, varies by discipline)
  • Physical condition of item
  • Curriculum needs
  • Core title (check standard lists, such as Books for College Libraries)
  • New title available in collection (superseded volume)
  • Circulation (use statistics, when available)
  • Multiple copies available (with low circulation)
  • Textbooks (generally not to be included in the collection)
  • Publisher (well known in field and may include professional associations)
  • Credibility of author, known experts in the field
  • Critics' reviews of book
  • If ten (10) copies of a title are available on OCLC or if one (1) other library in Texas owns the title, then it is acceptable for the title to be weeded
  • Geographic/Special interest (Texas/local)
  • Appropriate monograph level (undergraduate, graduate, professional, non-academic)

Materials We Never Weed

  • Regional materials (history, literature, geography, economics, art, music, etc.)
  • GBIC (Galveston Bay Information Collection)
  • Authors on the faculty
  • Classics in each field
  • Core materials in each discipline
  • Literary classics
  • Primary sources
  • Works deemed to be of historical value by the library professional staff

Examples of candidates for removal:

  • Computer Science older than 3 years (except UNIX, Open VMS, Cobol, Fortran)
  • Science after 3 years except History of Science, Botany, and Science
  • Technology and Applied Science older than 3 years
  • Library Science after 3 years except for theory and history
  • Occupational Guides, resume guides, etc. older than 3 years
  • Financial Management older than 5 years
  • Travel books older than 3 years
  • Health, Medicine, Nutrition and Drugs older than 3 years.
  • Psychology older than 10 years (not including Biography, History of Psychology, and Psychological Theory)
  • Physical Education older than 10 years
  • Atlases older than 3 years
  • Books not checked out in more than 3 years.
  • Incomplete Series (either order the missing volume or delete the set)
  • Study prep guides (GRE, MCAT, etc) older than 3 years