Why We Weed: Book Deselection in Academic Libraries

Mr. Library Dude

Weeding – withdrawing books from the library’s collection – is one those dreaded librarian tasks. It usually sits on the back burner – other projects are often more pressing, or it’s simply being avoided. However, it’s an important task and one that can be fraught with controversy.

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Public libraries which frequently need to refresh their collections to offer bestsellers often pop up in the news when it comes to weeding books – mostly for not doing the job well – see Urbana Free Library in Illinois, Fairfax County Libraries in Virginia, and Davenport Public Library in Iowa.

For academic libraries, the process seems to be a taboo subject. News about book weeding occasionally bubbles to the surface (see Emporia State University in Kansas, the University of North Dakota law libraryNicholls State University in Louisiana, and the University of New South Wales in Australia). After all, the library is…

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One thought on “Why We Weed: Book Deselection in Academic Libraries

  1. The question is often asked by many, why do libraries get rid of books? The answer to this question may not be of importance to you if you have no interest in the library world. Nonetheless, Librarians and library paraprofessionals understand the importance of weeding, much better than others in the library field. In academic libraries especially, it is important for weeding to take place, it helps librarians to see where there collection is lacking and the need to keep it updated. The weeding process is also good, in that it seeks to withdraw damaged items in the collection that would no longer seem fit to circulate. With the growing needs for information, the evolution of library 2.0 and the increasing results of electronic versions on books, journals, ect. Many paper based information are being digitized, which makes some books become obsolete. I think that libraries should weed their collection at particular intervals, so that their collection will always be updated, and in so doing meeting the needs of the user and getting rid of obsolete items, except in the case of “rare books.” As the article rightly said, “Books are for using–not for sitting on a shelf for years on end.”

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