The teacher librarian sustains a healthy collection through an effective maintenance program.

I hate to throw things away. How do I know when something should be pitched?

There's a really old video on first aid that the fifth grade teacher is still using. It's inaccurate in some sections. What should I do?

One of my buildings is closing. How do I get rid of everything?

The collection must be examined periodically to determine what materials need to be repaired, replaced, or removed. Whether you're examining the copyright dates on your book collection or editing broken links at your library website, maintenance is an essential aspect of collection development.

You also need policies that help you in the reconsideration process. A statement regarding the need for reevaluation of materials should be part of your selection policy. It should also indicate specifications for periodic inventories and recommendations for continuous and intermittent examination. Finally, criteria should be included for deselection of materials.

What is weeding?

space flightWeeding or deselection is selection in reverse. It is the practice of discarding or transferring to storage excess copies, rarely used items, and materials no longer in use.

Forexample, the book on the left titled Space Flight: The Coming Exploration of the Universe by Lester Del Rey (1959) was found in the science section of the library. The information in this book is nearly half a century old.

Purging is officially withdrawing an item from the collection. You'll want to destroy or deface purged materials to avoid "haunting materials." These are items that mysteriously reappear in your check-in bin years after they were discarded.

A policy is an important part of the weeding process. If you don't have a policy statement, how are you going to respond to questions?

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Weed now or weed later?

The answer to this question is WEED NOW! There are two laws of nature concerning weeding. First, no matter how strange, one person will find the item useful. Second, no matter how long you've had it, ten minutes after it's gone, someone will want it. Don't worry, it happens.

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How do you deal with guilt over tossing materials?

Weeding involves guilt. You feel bad because you are throwing away books, videos, or software. Think about it. Do you want a student to get inaccurate information? Do you want a little girl to think she can't be a doctor because only boys are represented as doctors in the career book she is reading? Do you want students to handle old, moldy books? At times, there are so many old books that students can't find the good ones. Weeding is essential.

print shop boxWith changing needs in the curriculum and limited space for expansion, you don't have a choice. The following list discusses why weeding is important:

There's no reason to have a shelf filled with Apple II computer software that will never be used.

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What excuses can be used for not weeding?

There are many excuses for not weeding. You may say you don't have time. In the long run weeding saves time by helping you see what you've got. you won't keep wasting time with old materials. You may say you're scared of making a mistake. Deselection criteria will help you make good decisions. You may fear throwing things out. Purging just takes practice. Repeat to yourself, quantity does not insure quality.

Remind yourself: like a healthy garden, a library must be weeded.

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What should be considered in weeding?

There are some things that should not be weeded. However, you may choose to move them out of general circulation. The following list provides some examples.

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What should be weeded?

Consider the physical condition, qualitative worth and quantitative worth of the item.

First, check the physical condition. Should it be repaired, replaced, or tossed?

Second, think about the qualitative worth of the material. Do you have anything else on the topic. Is the information negative, harmful, or subjective?

Third, examine the quantitative worth. Do you need multiple copies for classes or could you toss the copy in the worst shape?

Look for the following things:

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What kind of weeder are you?

There are many types of weeders. What kind are you?

Weekly Weeder. This person has a schedule for weeding. For example, every Friday afternoon might be devoted to weeding. Or, Tuesday morning after the staff meeting.

Whenever Weeder. This weeder knows that weeding need to be done, but doesn't seem to be able to fit it into the schedule. There's a master plan, but it may take years to get it done. Weeding may take place when there is no other choice. For example, if you're looking for something, you might weed the poor items around it. Or you might week the video collection when the shelf is full.

Quarterly Weeder. This person has a schedule like the weekly weeder and keeps on the schedule. It will be done, slowly but surely.

Inventory Weeder. Weed while doing inventory. This makes inventory take longer, but both are accomplished at once.

Major Project Weeder. The person does weeding as part of a larger project. For example, they may dive into the geography section as part of a project focusing on social studies standards.

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What types of things am I likely to find?

You will find all kinds of odd things when weeding. Some examples are below:

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Are there special considerations for weeding equipment?

Many school district have policies regarding discarded items over $200 or $500. There may be special discarding procedures such as taking the item off a district inventory list or sending it out for sale. In addition, there may be special paperwork for removal from inventory. You should keep good records on equipment repairs so you can justify removal and new purchases. These records should include who, where, when, why, and how much questions regarding equipment. Always weigh the cost of repairs versus cost of replacement. It is often cheaper to buy new.

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How can you have fun with weeding?

Check out the following humorous look at weeding

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What is the CREW Method?

The acronym CREW stands for Continuous Review, Evaluation, and Weeding. CREW is a cyclical process because one step leads to the next. The complete cycle is "collection building." The CREW method is a series of ongoing processes that continuously adds to, removes from, adjusts, and interprets the collection to fit the needs of users.

A full explanation of The CREW Method is found in the print book The CREW Method: Expanded Guidelines for Collection Evaluation and Weeding for Small and Medium-sized Public Libraries by Belinda Boone, Texas State Library (1995).

Learn more about the CREW method at these websites:

CREW Method: Expanded Guidelines for Collection Evaluation and Weeding for Small and Medium-Sized Public Libraries (1995) by B. Boon from The Texas Library and Archives Commission
Weeding with the CREW Method
. Online Powerpoint presentation by B. Boon
Related Websites:
CREW Method by J. Moore
Weeding with the Crew Method

CREW Guidelines for Weeding Your Collection
Summary of the weeding guidelines by Dewey Decimal call number.

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Check Your Understanding

info powerInformation Power - Program Administration: Principle 6. Ongoing assessment for improvement is essential to the vitality of an effective library media program. (p. 100, 108)

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Make It Real

What type of weeder will you be? Are your a pack rat or do you prefer a clean nest? Will you weed one or two times each year or is this a continuous process?

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Read More About It

Bernholz, Charles D. (1997). Weeding the Reference Collection: A Review of the Literature

Course 4: Weeding the Collection from Idaho State Library
Overview of weeding process.

Evans Handay, May Alice. Some Special Considerations... By Dewey Section.
Discusses issues about weeding each Dewey section.

Johnson, Doug (Aug./Sept. 2003). Head for the Edge: Weed! Library Media Connection

Klopfer, Karen. Weed It! For an Attractive and Useful Collection. Western Massachusetts Regional Library System.

Kramer, Pamela K. Weeding as a Part of Collection Development. 2002.

Livingston, Sally (1997). Weeding Library Media Center Collections. Jefferson County Schools, KY.

Materials De-selection Policy at Hamilton Public Library, Ontario, Canada

Sunlink Weed of the Month Club
Guidelines and suggestions for weeding collections a little at a time as well as for adding quality materials.

Weeding from Collection Development Training, Arizona Public Libraries

Weeding the Library Media Center Collections by Betty Buckingham et al for the Iowa Department of Education

Weeding: A Practical Manual for Librarians at Jefferson County Public Schools, KY

Weeding the Collection from Idaho State University

Materials Repair / Maintenance

Book Arts Web
Information on bookbinding, repair, and conservation. This site also has links to related sites.

Care and Handling of CDs and DVDs from National Institute of Standards and Technology

Preservation of Materials

Caring for Your Collections – Preservation from Library of Congress

Conservation OnLine (COoL) a project of the Preservation Department of Stanford University Libraries

Conservation information, covering a wide spectrum of topics of interest to those involved with the conservation of library, archives and museum materials.
Selected Section:
Disaster Preparedness and Response

Disaster Assistance from Northeast Document Conservation Center

Emergency assistance program for institutions and individuals with damaged paper-based collections.
Related Section:
Emergency Management Technical Leaflets

Disaster Mitigation Planning Assistance from Michigan State University Libraries and the Center for Great Lakes Culture
Contains examples of disaster plans, information on recovery techniques, and links to regional conservation and preservation centers.

Disaster Response: A Selected Annotated Bibliography from American Library Association
ALA fact sheet with links to disaster preparedness web sites, and to information on training and to other resources, plus a select book bibliography.

Healthy School Environments from National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities (NCEF)
Resource list of links, books, and journal articles on environmentally safe and healthy school buildings.

Lyall, Jan. Disaster Planning for Libraries and Archives: Understanding the Essential Issues, 1993.
A disaster plan is a document which describes the procedures devised to prevent and prepare for disasters, and those proposed to respond to and recover from disasters when they occur. The responsibility for performing these tasks is allocated to various staff members who comprise 'the disaster team'.

Mold from Chicora Foundation, Inc.
How to deal with it, and a very scientific explanation of what it is.

Mold and Moisture, Appendix H from the Environmental Protection Agency
This Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) kit aims at helping control indoor mold growth.

Mold Related Web Sites (Links) from California Air Quality Program

Patkus, Beth Lindblom. Emergency Salvage of Moldy Books and Paper. Northeast Document Conservation Center.
This leaflet provides some basic information about mold and outlines the steps that need to be taken to stop mold growth and begin to salvage collections.

Pennavaria, Katherine. Nonprint Media Preservation: A Guide to Resources on the Web. C&RL News, 64(8), Sept 2003.

Preservation from U.S. National Archives & Records Administration
Site deals with the preservation and recovery of paper, books, and other materials.
Selected Section:
A Primer on Disaster Preparedness, Management and Response: Paper-Based Materials

Preservation 101 from Northeast Document Conservation Center, Andover, MA
An online course in the preservation of materials

Procedures and Treatments Used for Book Repair and Pamphlet Binding from University of Illinois Library

Simple Book Repair Manual by the Dartmouth Libraries

Tennant, Roy. Digital Libraries-Coping With Disasters. Library Journal, Nov 2001.
What can be done to protect your digital library services and collections from the many disasters—whether they be outrageous or minor—that may befall those who do not prepare.

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