Where Are All the Books Going? “Weeding” Explained.

What does "weeding" mean?

Comic strip created by Kelley Plass

You may have noticed some changes in the circulating collection on the second floor of the Library. Empty spaces on the shelves, white “weed me” slips in the books, even discarded books in the recycling bins. What’s going on?

The Library is in the middle of an ongoing collection assessment project. In library speak, deselection (also called weeding) is a process in which we review the resources in a given subject area based on criteria such as physical condition, relevance to the curriculum, duplication in an electronic format, and circulation statistics (a.k.a. checkouts). It’s part of our collection development policy, which you can read here.

This process is a joint effort with the faculty in the various academic departments, who review the librarians’ recommendations and provide feedback based on their subject expertise. For example, the Philosophy librarian’s recommendations will be provided to the Philosophy department faculty for review and comment before any final decisions are made. Last semester, librarians and faculty reviewed the Business collection, and the materials that were weeded from that section are currently being removed and discarded.

Whenever possible, books that are deselected are sent to Better World Books, a company that collects and sells used books online and returns a portion of the net proceeds to support literacy and libraries. However, they don’t accept everything, and the books that are not accepted are discarded.

While no one likes to see books being discarded (including librarians!), anything you see in the recycling bins was placed there after a multi-step process that involved subject librarians, faculty, and others. It’s not a decision we make lightly, and we do it as part of our ongoing commitment to making sure the Library’s collections are as timely, relevant, accessible, and in good physical condition as possible.

If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to ask a library staff member or contact us via phone, email, chat, or text.

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