Thursday, December 4, 2014

Weeding of collection / Weeding out Process

इस ब्लॉग्स को सृजन करने में आप सभी से सादर सुझाव आमंत्रित हैं , कृपया अपने सुझाव और प्रविष्टियाँ प्रेषित करे , इसका संपूर्ण कार्य क्षेत्र विश्व ज्ञान समुदाय हैं , जो सभी प्रतियोगियों के कॅरिअर निर्माण महत्त्वपूर्ण योगदान देगा ,आप अपने सुझाव इस मेल पत्ते पर भेज सकते हैं -

Weeding of collection

P- 15. Special and Research Libraries *

By :malhan v,Paper Coordinator


A library—any library, whether public, academic, or even personal—needs to undergo regular evaluation and maintenance of its contents if the collection is to remain healthy and valuable. “Weeding” is the removal of materials that are judged by professional librarians to be in poor physical condition or to have become inaccurate due to changes in knowledge.

Weeding (or de-accessioning, unacquiring, deselecting, removing, discarding and trashing) of materials is an important component of collection development, yet it receives less attention than the selection of new materials in most libraries. Some libraries conduct weeding of their collections on a continual basis by weeding old editions, specific-subject areas, or damaged materials, while other libraries conduct comprehensive weeding of entire collections. For many libraries, its need is to conserve shelf space (Tobia, 2002).

Thus, weeding is very important, especially in a special library for maintaining the collection update. But if a collection is not in use, it should not be weeded out immediately. Librarians charged with weeding are doing this part of their job on a regular and ongoing basis, just as they are selecting new materials on a regular and ongoing basis. These professionals do their work using many tools that help them to evaluate the possible and likely future usefulness of materials that seem currently to be sitting unused on the shelf. A significant part of the library’s role in the community is to be a reflection and repository of culture and culture has less as well as more popular aspects to it! So, weeding should be done after evaluating the collection and keeping the importance of documents in view.  

Why Weed the Library Materials?

A comprehensive weeding project is a time-consuming, labour-intensive effort, and library professionals debate the extent of collection weeding that is prudent. However, in order to provide better access to the frequently consulted literature, back volumes are archived in a less active storage area. Though the library gets access to the back volumes online from the publisher’s websites, etc., the print volumes of these journals also be considered for archiving in less active storage area. Adequate space should be provided for archival storage to library if not available which can be achieved by weeding.

Besides, there are several other reasons for weeding out the reading materials from a library, like the appearance or condition of the material, removal of superfluous or duplicate volumes, poor contents, language of publication and the age. However, Magrill and Corbin (1989) have identified three groups of criteria that are ordinarily used in making weeding decisions:
  • usage,
  • value or quality, and
  • physical condition.

So simply the documents which are seldom used and which are less value or not of good quality in contents and those are not in good condition, can be weeded out to give room for new documents.  

Which Materials can be Weed Out?

Weeding actually starts with a collection development policy. It is critical to define in a collection development policy what a library’s collection should hold or what should not hold. Anything and everything a library collects needs to be covered by a weeding policy just as all collections need to be encompassed by a library’s collection development policy. Books, audiovisual items, and periodicals all have a place in weeding consideration. Generally, outdated poor contents material, worn or ragged items, poorly bound or scratched CDs/ DVDs, books with missing pages and the reading materials which has not been used for a long time can be weeded out from the library collection.

Broadly, the following categories of materials are generally considered for weeding out from a library collection (Anonymous, 2009):
  • Ephemeral material (e.g. newsletters, progress reports, pamphlets) including those materials that lose value after a certain period of time such as: annual reports, directories, yearbooks, etc. These are weeded out annually.
  • Annuals, directories, yearbooks, Swamy’s handbooks, etc. do not carry long lasting value, and therefore be weeding out. Duplicate copies of older editions can also be weeded out. But the categorization of the documents for its ephemeral value or otherwise is to be decided by the library committee.

But the duplicate issues of the journals may not necessarily be weeded out even the volumes are bound. They can be passed on to the rural campus or any institute/organization’s library to seek the prospect readers.

MUSTIE is an easily remembered acronym for six negative factors that frequently ruin a book's usefulness and make it a prime candidate for weeding (Larson, 2008):
M   = Misleading (and/or factually inaccurate)
U    = Ugly (worn and beyond mending or rebinding)
S    = Superseded (by a truly new edition or by a much better book on the subject)
T    = Trivial (of no discernible literary or scientific merit; usually of ephemeral interest at some time in the past)
I     = Irrelevant to the needs and interests of your community
E    = The material or information may be obtained expeditiously elsewhere through interlibrary loan, reciprocal borrowing, or in electronic format.

The details information is available at

Equally important is to see the Repair, Replace, or Discard value of an item in a library. See what is the item is to be repaired?  What will it cost in time and money to repair? See whether it is cheaper to buy its new copy? Finally, confirm that do we really want to keep this? Replace with new copy or a different book on the same topic – is there something more current? Or discard completely.
But a library should retain local history except when the item is shabby and beyond repair. Also retain writings by local authors during their lifetime and materials with local settings unless they have not circulated within the at least previous five years.

Benefits of Weeding

There are various benefits of weeding out the library materials. Larson (2008) has identified six major benefits of weeding the collection.

1. Save the Space: Shelf space costs money in a variety of ways, not the least of which is the actual cost to buy additional shelving to house more and more materials. But a well-maintained collection saves the cost of dusting books that no one is using and of shifting materials to make room for more items.

The library staff will also not need to fill the bottom shelves or pile books on top of the stacks, and the library will be more attractive and easier to use. Good practice says that shelves should never be more than 85 percent full. In addition, retaining unused material takes up shelf space that could be used to display recent items. Not having to add more shelving ranges may even allow the library to provide, or retain, space for tables and chairs for in-house study or for additional computers. Weeding allows you to maintain the open, friendly appearance that is the hallmark of a good community library.

2. Save the Time of Patrons, Staff and Yourself: Shelves crowded with ragged books with illegible markings cost time. Patrons looking for a particular book have to sort through items that are clearly not of use or that they do not want to touch. Staff trying to shelve returned items has to shift and reshift books to make space. The librarian trying to use the collection for reference or reader's advisory services must peruse outdated items to find the correct, current information. An excess of citations from the online catalogue that lead to outdated or unusable materials slows searching and frustrates users. Library housekeeping, from dusting to shifting sections, is impeded and made more backbreaking by an overload of useless books and other materials.

Thus, the weeding is to be carried out which will save the time of staff and readers both.

3. Make the Collection more Appealing by Replacing Ragged, Smudged Books and Unattractive Rebinds with Attractive New Books:  Even perennial favourites and classics benefit from being replaced by clean copies with updated covers. Circulation can be increased by simply making the shelves look more attractive and user-friendly, even if there are actually fewer books. It is better to have fresh air and empty space on the shelves than to have musty old books that discourage investigation.

4. Enhance Library’s Reputation for Reliability and Currency and build Public Trust:Patrons expect that library materials are selected by experts and that the information is up-to-date and reliable. For many users, especially younger people, the mere fact that a book is in the library lends authority to it. For example, a section of astronomy books that include many pre-Hubble space exploration books or books that include Pluto as a planet create a credibility gap of astronomical dimensions! Nothing will discourage a student as much as writing a paper based on research performed with library materials that provided obsolete or erroneous information. The public counts on the library providing accurate information. Patrons quickly decide that the library has ‘nothing’ of value if they sort through a lot of outdated material.

5. Keep Up with Collection Needs: Weeding provides a continuous check on the need for mending or binding, alerts the library staff to lost or stolen books in need of replacement, and guarantees a more accurate volume count. This process also allows for both on-going weeding, where shabby items, superseded items, or unused items can be removed almost without effort, and scheduled weeding where you look at specific areas of the collection on a regular basis. Besides, library staff that weed continuously have greater knowledge of the collection.

6. Constant Feedback on the Collection’s Strength and Weakness: This information can be helpful when soliciting donations and making decisions about purchases. For example, knowing that the business books are out-of-date, the librarian can approach an organized group or an individual and request specific assistance in building an area of special interest and usefulness to them.  

Weeding Checklists

Weeding is the ongoing evaluation of the library collection with a view to removing those items, which are no longer useful to library users. So, it is useful after selecting an item for further weeding consideration to have a list to check it against for possible retention. Staff members do not often have the necessary knowledge in all subjects to decide what a classic is. Having one or several accepted lists provides a useful last check in the weeding process. Using a checklist is a quick way to establish the possible importance for retention of a candidate for weeding. The various editions of books for libraries have been and will continue to be important for determining the value of books for libraries.

Besides, the help of subject experts may also be sought for weeding out the collection because a librarian cannot be a master for all subjects. Other sources need to be employed depending upon the library and type of collection. 

What to do with Weeded Books:

Once physical items such as books, journals, or audiovisual items are withdrawn, something has to be done with them. The policy of weeded out books and other reading material vary from library to library depending upon the nature and localities. But Larson (2002) has provided five basic ways to dispose of print or non-print materials:

1. Sell It: Weeded material can be sold out to the public, either at a large annual sale or from a continuous sale rack; or to a used book dealer or pulp dealer, usually in large lots, or through online sales.
2. Donate It: Weeded material can be donated to a hospital, nursing home, adult or juvenile correctional facility, charitable institution, school district, or to a small library struggling toward system membership.
3. Trade It: Weeded material can also be traded out with another library, or with a used book dealer, for a book your library can use.
4. Recycle It: Weeded documents can also be recycled by using a local contractor, perhaps in cooperation with local government agencies.
5. Destroy It: This is the last option, when the material is of such type that neither it can be donated or sold out then, it can be destroyed by burning in an incinerator or by tossing it into the trash. If the latter method is used, be sure the books would not be seen by someone passing by. Citizens might misunderstand the reasons for destroying ‘valuable’ books.

Once the material from the libraries is weeded out, it is essential to make sure that follow-up is done in updating library accession register, catalogues and the websites to reflect weeding material. Besides, keeping a list or file of withdrawn items can assist in knowing what happened to a work that is requested or turns up later. So it should be retained and it will be useful as staff changes for having a history of weeding decisions which may help to focus future weeding practices.


Weeding is an art of keeping the library collection current, accessible, and tailored to users’ needs. But the weeding a library’s collection can be a daunting task, particularly if some time has passed since all or part of the collection has been critically evaluated (Boon, 2009). However, the weeding of library materials is not a crime against humanity (Maxted, 2006). It is not necessarily means absolutely and permanently depriving a library’s users of the weeded materials.

Thus, weeding seems to be carried out necessarily to give room the new coming documents and also to maintain update collection in a library. But despite of valid reasons for weeding, as Tobia (2002) mentions some librarians are reluctant to weed their collection due to possible repercussions from administration, faculty, or the community when large numbers of books are discarded. Other librarians may be reluctant to weed for fear of discarding material that may become important for future historical research.

References and Bibliography

Anonymous. Library Manual-Sir Dorabji Tata Memorial Library. Bombay : Tata Institute of Fundamental Sciences, 2009. Available at: (Accessed on 12/12/2013).
Boon, Belinda. “Using the CREW Method to Enhance Public and School Library Collections”. Journal of Access Services 6, (2009): 324–336.
Dhawan, S. M. Managing a Library. Pp. 181-188. Available (Accessed on 12/12/2013).
Dhiman, A.K. and Rani, Yashoda. Library Management: A Manual Book for Effective Management. New Delhi: Ess Ess Publications, 2004.
Larson, Jeanette. CREW: A Weeding Manual for Modern Libraries. Austin: Texas State Library and Archives, 2008.
Library Weeding Policy of King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals.‎ (Accessed on 12/12/2013).
Magrill, R.M. and Corbin, J. Acquisitions Management and Collection Development in Libraries. 2nd  Edition. Chicago: American Library Association, 1989.
Manley, Will. “The Manley Arts: If I called this Column ‘Weeding’, You would not Read It”.  Booklist 92, (1996): 1108.
Manley, Will.   Readers Need Weeders. American Libraries  34, no.10 (2003): 80.
Maxted, Lawrence. Weeding 101. Erie, PA : Gannon University Nash Library, 2006.
Peggy, Johnson Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management. USA: ALA, 2004.
Segal, J. P. The CREW Manual: A Unified System of Weeding, Inventory, and Collection-Building for Small and Medium-Sized Public Libraries. Austin: Texas State Library & Archives Commission, 1980. 
Silber, Karen. “Every Library is Special and so is Its Collection Development Policy”. AALL Spectrum, December, 1999: 10-11 & 38.
Tobia, Rajia C. “Comprehensive Weeding of an Academic Health Sciences Collection: the Briscoe Library experience”. Journal of the Medical Library Association 90, no. 1 (2002): 94-98.
Weeding Guidelines. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. (Accessed on 12/12/2013).

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