It is important to conduct regular reviews of the library's physical and digital resources in order for the collection to remain relevant and in good condition. Weeding, also referred to as culling or deselection, involves the removal and disposal of resources that are no longer considered suitable for the collection.
To weed successfully library staff need a good knowledge of the collection as well as an awareness of curriculum requirements and student needs.
Criteria for weeding the physical collection include: the content; physical condition and usage, as outlined below:
- Resources in technologically dated or redundant/obsolete formats.
- Discriminatory content (i.e. currency, bias, cultural overtones and social justice issues, stereotyping of race, culture or gender).
- Irrelevance to the curriculum and current teaching and learning methods.
- Inappropriate or irrelevant to the needs of users.
- Inaccurate or misleading information.
- Torn, scratched or worn.
- Damaged beyond repair.
- Unattractive appearance.
- Amount of use very low or no usage in recent years.
Guidelines and procedures for weeding should be included in the library collection development policy.
Weeded and damaged library items should be removed from the collection and disposed of according to approved procedures.
As far as departmental policies are concerned, library books are not classified as assets from a financial reporting perspective. For accountability, disposal of culled books requires:
- that they are written off from whatever records are kept in the library (usually the library management system)
- that the appropriate delegated officer in the school certifies that the books have been written out of the register for whatever reason (missing, damaged, withdrawn from collection, etc.).
Once the books have been properly written off, they can be disposed of by:
- selling them, at school fetes or otherwise, as long as the sale is advertised (a notice in the school newsletter is adequate). Sales of books should still be issued with a receipt and funds receipted through the relevant school account
- donating them to good causes, including schools overseas, and charities which may sell them to raise funds
- disposal. The guidelines regarding 'destroy and dump' refer mainly to school records and equipment which may contain sensitive information about students and staff, so it is not necessary to destroy the books, but they should be marked as cancelled (withdrawn) and any borrower details removed.
- Check the catalogue regularly for dead links.
- Contracts and licensing agreements must be adhered to when weeding digital resources. Some resources will need to be carefully removed once subscriptions have expired.
- When cancelling subscriptions to electronic journals, consideration should be given to the lack of access to back copies of the journal once the subscription ends.