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      Hello everyone.  I wanted to ask a follow-up question regarding weeding.  How 
do you determine what is a "classic" and shouldn't be weeded?  I know to leave all 
award winners alone (or upgrade), but what about other titles?  I am fairly new to 
the profession, so any source for "classics" or "do not discard" would be 

Theresa Harris
Glen Allen, Virginia
804 756-3040    

-----Original Message-----
From: School Library Media & Network Communications on behalf of Darling, Sara
Sent: Wed 3/30/2005 11:02 AM
Subject: HIT: Weeding
Hi Everyone,
I am attempting to post a hit on my request for weeding information. I
received and am continuing to receive a ton of helpful information. I
apologize if some of the items here are redundant. I hope others will
find this information as valuable as I have. Thanks again to all who
There are published guidelines for weeding; Here is a good website, with
I started 4 years ago under similar circumstances.  While weeding the
collection I looked at these things: Publishing date (So far I have
weeded only up to 1960 because of the large number of older books to
look at) I also check the book statistics to see how often it was
checked out and when the last checkout date was. Last, if it is a
classic work, I kept it or replaced it with a new copy that might catch
the students' eye.
I'd use circulation information as a guide. If your state has age 
standards, use those too. For example, I'm currently weeding in the 
300's, and certain Dewey ranges are listed as "age sensitive" which 
means that we can't count anything that is older than 12 years old. I'm 
pulling anything older than 1990 and checking the circulation data. If 
it hasn't circulated in the past five years, out it goes.
As you are preparing your book orders, you can concentrate on those 
areas that you have weeded most heavily. I wouldn't try to do the entire

collection at once, though. Pick a couple of areas each year and work on

those. Now that you've been in the library a couple of years, you have a

pretty good idea of where to start.
I guess for me one of the most important things is if it looks horrible
(old, yellow and tatty) kids aren't going to pick it up!  If it is
archaic ... then it may also be out of date. We asked members of the
school (staff - specialised in their area) to come and take a look at
certain areas (eg.
Physics) and to 'pull off' anything that was out of date or not
relevant. We also asked staff for recommendations on WHAT should be
purchased, to replace the items that were 'weeded'.  Sometimes there was
nothing to suggest, we build the collection a lot when we come to
'teach' or 'research' from it ... and there are 'gaps'.  We have 'items
to be purchased box' where we 'add' tittles, series, and subjects to ask
the bookseller about when they 'pop' in (we also have 'wish' list - in
case there is money left over at the end of the year).
If it needs replacing, and it is actually part of a set, keep it for
now, but aim to replace it.  It's no good keeping tonnes of books if the
kids won't touch them.
We have recently done a 'weed' of our fiction area (just started at A
and moved along) we did it when we had a few minutes spare and at
lunchtime (when we were on duty (and the kids were fairly settled).
We keep ALL our old Wordbook Encyclopedias, as sometimes the 'computers'
are not working or the internet is 'down'.  The bulk of the information
is the same, (eg. A piano is a piano, Shakespeare is still the same),
however we are aware that some of the information needs to be more
up-to-date and we send the students to the non-fiction shelves for this.
We have 'older' medical, science etc encylopedias and keep ALL of them,
as we normally help the students we are able to direct them into their
area of need.
The workshop I recently attended by a seasoned librarian said the
following: 1. If the book contains outdated information - toss 2. If the
book has not circulated in three years and is over ten years old- 
toss - even if in good condition
3. Better to have less books with current information, than lots of
that are out dated and make locating more current useful books
difficult. 4. If the shelves look full even if the books are old and
outdated you will 
have a hard time justifying a need for funds for new books
5. I was in the same situation last year, but I made myself toss. 6. I
made weeded books available to teachers to take to the classroom.
Start with Follet's Titlewise Collection Analysis. It has step by step
directions, is very simple, is free, and will give you an "aged titles"
report and all the statistical data you could want. Copyright date is
very important in the sciences sections and the report will identify
books in your collection that are out-of-date. Of course, for picture
books and some other areas, copyright is less important than condition
of the book. It will also breakdown your collection by percent in each
Dewey category and compare it to recommended standards and give you the
average age of the collection. You don't need to automatically toss
everything Follett thinks is too old, after all, they want to sell you
new books, but it will identify books that you need to consider tossing.
I was in a similar situation a few years ago - the previous librarian
had no training in library science and the one before her had been there
forever. So I weeded pretty heavily. I offered anything I was discarding
to the teachers so I didn't get any grief for throwing away "perfectly
good books." And I showed some of the worst examples to the PTA and
asked for money to restock the shelves. Good luck and remember "Be
ruthless". If you think it should be tossed, it probably should!
One online resource that is great is Sunlink
This site has everything including weed of the month - very cool.
Another great resource is Resources for school librarians:
Lot's of good stuff.  
Work on 500s first and week anything before 1990 (actually prob 1995) on
the space program.  I usually give to students who like to have a book
of their own. Don't week the 398.2 (fairy tales).  You will be surprised
how wonderful to have an old copy of an out of print story that is still
a great one.
Weed the 900s diligently (I was a social studies teacher).  You need to
weed any state material that doesn't reflect the most recent census
(2000). Also, weed things that refer to the Soviet Union.  That hasn't
been around in forever.
When I arrived at this school, it was in MAJOR need of weeding.
However, I didn't have the funds to replace all the books right away -
and I had some teachers who had "favourites" that I wanted to weed.  So
I did weeding in 2 steps.  First I got rid of all those that were
clearly in need of weeding.  Those titles that I thought probably should
be weeded but either were teacher "favourites" - or weeding would have
emptied the shelves of that particular topic - I withdrew from the
shelves and the catalogue.  I then created a "teacher curriculum box"
section - and organized the weeded titles into "curriculum boxes"
(subjects such as music, animals, space, Christmas, Medieval times,
Explorers, poetry, etc) .  I labeled each book on the outside cover with
its curriculum box title.  I allow teachers to take these boxes into
their classrooms.  I don't have a list of the titles in the boxes - I
figure if some go missing it's ok.  As I have been able to purchase new
titles to replace those which were weeded, I have just quietly gotten
rid of the curriculum boxes.  I still have
It was a lot of work - but I would do it again in a heartbeat if faced
with a similar situation.  The student shelves were quite bare for a
couple years (but that helps to "prove" the need for funds).  However,
the students and teachers still had access to books for
projects/curriculum-based units.  And I was still able to satisfy (most
of!) the teachers' needs for books on most topics, which helped them to
trust me.
Sounds like you are not automated.  One of the advantages with
automation is that you can see what is not checked out.  But if you've
been there 2 years, you probably know what has been checked out.  For
fun I would take pictures of you collection before you start.  Then when
you are done, you will have no question that you did the right thing. 
Be brave.  Criteria?  
Here is what I do:  
Fiction:  If it's old looking, get rid of it.  Worn out? Is it something
you need to reorder.  If it's a classic, you should be able to reorder.
Kid's judge books by there covers. If it isn't a classic, you should
too. Non fiction:  If it's information, I got rid of everything 70's and
older.  80's most things, 90's ?  if it was space or computers early
90's went too.  Biographies, tougher.  If I had a later version of the
same person, I got rid of the old book.  But I kept most of them, except
the pop culture people of the 70's and 80's if they aren't around now,
they won't be missed.   
I love to weed.  You'll get some better advise than mine.  But the
library feels so much better, and looks so much better when you're done.
Offer the books to your teachers.  They may want them at first,
especially fiction.  After that the public library can put them in their
If you're not automated, you can look at the card in the back.  I
created a list from the computer of any book that hadn't been checked
out in 5 years, and then tried to judge each book.  I also had an
assistant that has been here a long time and if I had any question about
a book's use, she knew.  It was also an easy judgement if there were
multiple copies.  I will continue to weed, but it will be easier after
this year's big weeding. (Like you, I was new at this school this year
and the librarian before me was waiting for our automation system to be
5 years old, so we could generate the list of books never checked out.)
Good luck.  Let me know how it goes!!
Sara Darling, M.I.S.
Library Media Specialist/Yearbook Advisor
St. Ann School
Bartlett, TN
(901) 266-5218

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