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Revised Policy on Deselection of Materials from the Fixed Shelves of the LC Collection


Collection development is considered the process of adding new materials to the library to benefit the university community.  Weeding (or de-selection) of materials in the collection is another component of collection development and serves to maximize the usefulness of the library collection.; Weeding the collection provides space for new materials and increases the value of the collection by removing outdated/unwanted material or items in poor condition.

The process of deselecting materials requires as much care as the process of selection itself. It is especially important that deselection be viewed within the broader context of the library's collection development programs and policies. Like collection development, deselection of materials is a consultative endeavor involving library staff, faculty members, and other parties as appropriate. This document describes policy guidelines governing the deselection of general library materials. It does not cover U.S. Government Documents, reference materials, or Special Collections and Archives.  Separate written guidelines exist for those materials.

Objectives of deselection

  • To make the most effective use of shelf space: Shelving of library materials is inherently expensive and some areas of the collection may become overcrowded. Deselection may be necessary to remove materials that are not needed and provide space for new acquisitions
  • To increase the relevance of the existing collections to current curricular needs: Removing dated or irrelevant titles from the shelves facilitates browsing by students and faculty.
  • To maintain the collections in an acceptable physical condition.

Criteria for deselection
Library Faculty Liaisons will periodically examine subject collections for material to be withdrawn. 

Guidelines for routine deselection (i.e. added copies, superseded editions, and supplanted general surveys)

  • Redundancy. Multiple copies, multiple editions, or redundant formats that are no longer needed should be withdrawn. Care will be taken in checking whether or not an item was placed on reserve in the past five years and how frequently that item was used on reserve. Individual titles containing information found elsewhere in the collection may also be deselected. For example general surveys or textbooks of a topic which have not been consulted in many years.

  • Obsolescence. Titles that contain obsolete information (e.g. legal or medical reference works) may be deselected because the information they contain is out-of-date, invalid, inaccurate, or incomplete. Other examples include travel, occupational, or graduate study prep guide information more than 5 years old. In addition, the library may consider for withdrawal multi-media formats which have become obsolete and can no longer be played on equipment in the library's possession.(For example Wordperfect discs, Laserdisks, audio cassette tapes.)

  • Physical Condition. Materials may be deselected due to poor physical condition. Many current newspapers are routinely retained for stated periods and then discarded or replaced in microform. Deteriorating books are evaluated for preservation and withdrawn if necessary. Replacement copies are sought as appropriate and available.

  • Occasionally materials will be lost due to a variety of causes. When this happens consideration for replacing the material will be based on:
    • Check-out statistics. High use material will be replaced if possible.
    • Availability within the ConnectNY union catalog. Generally the item will not be replaced if there are one or two copies available in ConnectNY and the item does not have a pattern of high use.
    • Price of obtaining a replacement copy.
    • Availability of an electronic edition already in the collection or accessible in a full text database.  An issue of a serial will not be replaced if the item is accessible in electronic full text.

    Procedures for routine deselection

    1. Inform the Head of Collection Development and the Head of Cataloging before you are start to review an LC class. 
    2. Obtain a book truck from Borrowing Services.  Notify them before taking book truck. Avoid May1-May 31st or Dec 1-30 when most book trucks are in use for normal operations.
    3. Obtain a stack of deselection checklist forms from Collection Services, or print out your own from the withdrawal project folder listed under Y:/liaision.  Make sure to initial and date each form.  One form can be used for multiple copies UNLESS on the copies is in poor shape (see below).
    4. You may wish to use III to create a list of added copies or multiple editions in a particular call number area.  This approach should be used alongside scanning the shelves.
    5. Scan the shelves for added copies, superseded editions, and general surveys which have been supplanted by other more recent general surveys.
    6. Check the use stats in the back of the book.
      1. Has a superseded edition been used in the past five years?
      2. Is there a need for multiple copies based on use? If not identify the best copy or copies to leave on the shelf. Page through the book and check for binding issues, sideline notes, underlining or highlighting.  Choose the best copy for retention.  Check the poor condition box on the checklist as necessary so the item does not go to Better World Books.
      3. If the book is a general survey and has not been used in ten years consider what else we have on the subject.
    7. Use the deselection checklist form to note the reason why a book should be withdrawn. Several categories may be checked.  If a copy has a lot of underlining or highlighting also note that on the slip as this material will not be offered to Better World Books.
    8. Use a pink VVG flag, available in Technical Services to identify government documents being withdrawn.
    9. Check the staff record on III for notes about the item being on reserve.
      1. Has it been on reserve in the past five years? Look at the use statistics in the note field in the III record. It is not unusual for a professor to put multiple copies on reserve, but each item is only used less than two times in a semester on reserve. Multiple copies may not be justified by this level of use.
      2. In general if it has been on reserve in the past five years leave two copies on the shelf.
    10. Make sure you also review the Reference collection in your subject area .
    11. Consult with faculty as necessary especially about general surveys.
    12. If you are assisting another liaison with his/her section, give him/her an opportunity to review the material identified for deselection.
    13. Once all decisions have been made, transfer the book truck to Collection Services where III records will be updated and the material officially withdrawn. In the item record we will indicate the reason for withdrawal and indicate what fiscal year it was done.
    14. Once the deselection deadline has been met, the Liaison will notify the Head of Collection Development. 

    Guidelines for comprehensive weeding of subject areas (non-routine deselection of single copies)

    Library Faculty Liaisons will periodically examine subject areas in a more comprehensive way.   Typically, this type of weeding removes outdated, inaccurate or irrelevant material and is closely aligned with usage, age of publication, and checkout statistics. Faculty will be consulted with this type of deselection.

    • No title published within the last ten years will be deselected unless it falls under the category of routine weeding guidelines described above.
    • Infrequently used materials. Titles not used in the past twenty years by Colgate faculty and students or lent to other libraries via interlibrary loan may be deselected.
    • Titles outside the collecting scope of the library. Titles no longer relevant to current curricular or research needs and therefore not within the scope of the library's current collection development policies may be removed from the collections.

    The more complex nature of systematic weeding benefits from consistent use of procedures by the library staff, listed in the next section, as well as regular dialogue between the Liaison and the Heads of Collection Development and the Head of Cataloging.

    Procedures for comprehensive weeding of subject areas

    1. Before commencing a systematic review of items in a subject collection the Library Faculty Liaison will
      1. Inform the Head of Collection Development and the Head of Cataloging
      2. Notify appropriate faculty of the proposed project, timeline, and opportunities for faculty involvement.
      3. Gather library statistics related to age, duplication, and/or circulation of items; and pinpointing titles in poor condition.  The staff version of the online catalog can be used to create lists that indicate multiple copies or lack of check-out, etc.  Just about anything in the bibliographic and item records can be used to create a de-accessions  list.  The list can then be used in print or electronic format to guide the weeding project with call numbers, titles, etc.  Creation and output of the list benefits from some knowledge of the MARC record. Liaisons may benefit by asking the Head of Cataloging for advice.
    2. During the project the Liaison should use the deselection checklist form to indicate a reason for each deselection decision.  Faculty can then be invited to review items selected for withdrawal while they are still on the shelf and can make notes where they disagree with the decision to withdraw the item.  Typically, a large weeding project in a subject area should allow faculty at least one term (?) for review. 
    3. Make sure you also review the Reference collection in your subject area.
    4. Once the deselection deadline has been met, the Liaison will notify the Head of Collection Development regarding the approximate number of titles that will be weeded (as a courtesy for workflow considerations).  The Head of Collection Development will work with the Liaison to select a date for the material to be re-located to Collection Services for withdrawal and disposition.

    Cautions, Restrictions, and Safeguards regarding the disposal of withdrawn materials

    • Any U.S. government document withdrawn from the circulating collection must first be offered to other U.S. Government Depositories.
    • Books withdrawn from the collection which are in good to excellent condition will be sent to Better World Books. For more information see:
    • Periodicals withdrawn from the collection will be offered first to other libraries through Listservs such as BackServ, the Obegroup list, or the local CLRC list.
    • Any funds realized from the sale of materials deselected will be used only to acquire other titles for the library collections.   To avoid conflict of interest, or the appearance of it, great care will be exercised when considering the sale of deselected titles to any member of the college community.

    Procedures for a systematic withdrawal of books from LASR will be developed at a later date.

    Policy revised August 2010.











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