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 Weeding involves removing outdated, unused or worn-out items so that current, information-rich and visually appealing materials are easily seen and accessed. 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important for a nonfiction collection to have information that is current, as people should not be provided with outdated or incorrect information.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:

  • Lack of use
  • Poor physical condition
  • Racist or stereotypical content
  • Duplicated or superseded content
  • Poorly written
  • Outdated
  • Inappropriate reading level for collection
  • Change 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. YRL Client Services Librarians are available upon request to assist with weeding projects.

The following information outlines procedures that are necessary to make the process a success.

Preparation (to do prior to YRL staff assistance)

  • Receive approval from the library manager and library board
  • If possible, it is recommended that the library is closed during a large weeding project
  • Collect boxes for the items being withdrawn
  • Ensure that space is set aside for all of the books
  • It is recommended that extra staff be available for assistance

Weeding (YRL assistance)

  • Using circulation reports and the criteria for discarded materials, YRL staff will go through the collection and make recommendations on what should be withdrawn from the collection.
  • Together, library staff and YRL staff will determine whether the item should be recycled or put in a book sale based on condition.
  • Library staff will scan the items into a record set in Polaris, cross out the barcode, stamp “Withdrawn” or “Discard” on the top of the book and place into the appropriate box (book sale or recycle).
  • YRL staff will bulk change the items' status to withdrawn.
  • Staff members must be discrete when weeding as the process can be sensitive to some patrons. They must be prepared to address any concerns that arise from community members.


  • The library is responsible for disposing of the remaining books.
    • Hardcover books must have their covers removed before recycling. Covers cannot be recycled.
    • Paperbacks can be recycled as is.

Ideally, discarded materials are brought to a recycling facility. If there are no recycling facilities in your area, YRL can take recycle-ready materials for a fee. Contact the Client Services Librarians for more information.