Q&A: Weeding Schedules

Does your library weed on a schedule? Specifically in the youth services area where we care for so many collections? (at last count, I think I have 31 separate collection codes that fall under my jurisdiction!) One of my process improvement goals for 2014 is to get myself on a schedule for weeding. I love to weed, so it's not that the collections have been neglected. In fact, all the children and teen collections have had several, thorough goings through since I took over almost 4 years ago. But now I'd like to get on a systematic schedule that allows me to make my way through the collections in an organized fashion on a regular basis.

Lately, most of the weeding I've been doing has been driven by areas too full to shelve recent returns or collection reorganization projects. That kind of "emergency," situation-based weeding will always take place, but is not the kind of model I'd like to sustain as everyday business.

I've looked through the revised CREW manual, and tried some web searches, and while lots of helpful information on how and what to weed is out there, I'm not finding what I'm looking for.

So, readers, do any of you work for libraries or systems or departments that have weeding schedules? Have you made your own, formal or informal, schedule? How do you approach your collections to make sure you are covering everything in a timely fashion? Do you aim to hit every collection once a year, or less frequently? Please share your wisdom! If you have any documents to share, email them to amy [at] catchthepossibilities.com

Thanks for sharing in this learning and growth opportunity!



  1. Hi Amy-
    We use Relative Use, which is extremely helpful for ordering and weeding nonfiction. It is based on a PLA presentation from 2010 (this will give you a better idea-http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2010/03/careers/pla-2010-conference-i-have-these-statistics-now-what/#_). What is nice about it is if you have a tech person who will run your report for you, it gives you how many copies in a Dewey area you need to buy and how many you need to weed.

  2. When I started 5 1/2 years ago, the collection had never, to my knowledge been weeded. I did major weeds of all the big sections (picture books, juvenile fiction, juvenile non-fiction, teen). Some of the gems I found - a biography of Lindbergh pre-kidnapping, lots of "someday man will walk on the moon" science books and computer books from the 80s.
    After that I've been weeding bits and pieces without really organizing it. This year however, I set up an excel spreadsheet with each area, I divided each area into alphabetical codes (Picture books - As) etc. and it is my goal to weed every section at least once every two years. Our nonfiction section is still very, very outdated, but I'm hampered by budget constraints in replacing materials. I think it's better to have nothing than something outdated (we are in a 42 library consortium, so it's not like there's not going to be something out there) but my director disagrees with me on that point, so until I get more $$...those craft books from the 70s, planet series including Pluto, and 20 year old dinosaur books will be hanging around.

  3. Also, since our collection has never been consistently weeded and since we're having a lot of growing pains switching between "small library" to "large library" weeding is more complicated. I have to explain, over and over again, why it's ok to weed a book that still "looks good." (yeah, it looks good because it hasn't checked out in ten years!) Weeding dvds is a new and shocking thing that we are all trying to get our minds around, and of course there's always the sorrow that comes when an old friend has checked out over 100 times, shows every one of those checkouts in stains, tears, and loose binding, but is out of print.

  4. Thanks for the comments, ladies. Thankfully, Jennifer, I'm not getting pressure about the amount of weeding I've done, just compliments from patrons about how nice the children's collection looks :)

  5. We have a two-year weeding schedule in my library district, which means every aspect of the children's collection will have undergone a weeding project in the past two years. We pay particularly close attention to old and low- or non-circulating items when we consider withdrawing items. Due do space issues on my shelves, I'll also run occasional weeding lists out of schedule--usually just to address specific spacing issues, and these end up being very small weeds or items customers just aren't using but we have at other branches should anyone request them.


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