Weeding is an important part of any library's collection maintenance program. Weeding involves removing outdated, unused or worn-out items so that current, information-rich and visually appealing materials are easily seen and accessible. It is especially important for a nonfiction collection to have information that is current, as people should not be provided with outdated or incorrect information. Reasons to discard material include:

    • Lack of use
    • Poor physical condition
    • Racist or stereotypical content
    • Duplicated or superseded content
    • Poor writing
    • Outdated
    • Changes in curriculum (in school libraries)

One of YRL's services is to assist member libraries with large weeding projects. It is recommended that libraries weed their collections on an ongoing basis, approximately every three to five years, depending on the size of library. 

Preparing to weed
    • Receive approval from the library manager and library board.
    • If possible, close the library during a large weeding project. Weeds and inventories can be completed in smaller sections without closing the library.
    • Collect boxes for the items being withdrawn.
    • Set aside space to store all the withdrawn boxes of books.
    • Have extra staff available for assistance.
Doing the weed
    • Using circulation reports and criteria for discarded materials, go through the collection to pull items. 
      • Polaris Reports and Notices > Custom > Weeding - Simple: creates a weeding list based on publication year and circulation numbers.
      • Polaris Reports and Notices > Custom > Weeding - Simple with Collection Filter: narrows the above weeding list to a specific collection code.
      • Polaris Reports and Notices > Circulation > Items > Uncirculated Items: Creates a list of items based on item creation date, last circulation date, and collection. 
      • See the SimplyReports Depository for more custom reports you can build easily to help with weeding.
Discarding books

Make sure you have a plan for the discarded books after you finish weeding. Libraries will often have a book sale and use unsold books in craft programs or recycle them. Check out Earth911 to help locate places that accept used books for resale or recycling.


Weeding the Library Collection - Webjunction self-paced course