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Handout for Pratt LIS 660: Weeding Presentation

December 3, 2014

The following is a list of resources compiled by Rebecca Plock and Elizabeth Willse for a class presentation in Collection Development, Fall 2014, taught by Professor Barbara Genco.

These resources accompany a PowerPoint presentation which can be accessed in full here.

Weeding Books: Managing the Process from Planning to Repurposing


Presentation and Handout by Rebecca Plock and Elizabeth Willse

Collection Development LIS 660

December 3, 2014


An online version of this handout (with links) can be found at:


Slideshare PowerPoint presentation can be found at:


Weeding: the Basics


Gregory, V. L. (2011). Collection development and management for 21st century library

collections: An introduction. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers.

Johnson, P. (2004). Fundamentals of collection development & management. Chicago:

American Library Association. Chapter 5 “Weeding,” particularly p 193-207


When Weeding Goes Wrong: Common Themes

  • Sudden, large-scale weeding project
  • No public warning
  • Books treated as trash, not repurposed
  • Leads to public outcry, damages library reputation


To track current/ongoing news of weeding gone wrong, use search terms like:

public (or academic) library deaccession, weeding, protest, anger

Try Google alerts, as well as watching for stories on Library Journal or SLJ


Weeding Gets Emotional

  • Love of books gets tangled up in the discard process. Calling it “Weeding,” could be the problem, John Berry points out.
  • Librarians may hate weeding as much as patrons do, between love of books and balancing against other tasks.
  • Public outcry about weeding gone wrong doesn’t help.


Better Approach: Policy

Make sure library collection policy includes

  • Context for weeding in the library’s overall goals
  • Broad outline of weeding criteria/process including responsibilities
  • How gifts will be handled
  • Statements about where weeded books will go
  • ….. No surprises!


Better Approach: Practice

  • Make weeding an ongoing process
  • Weed: worn, outdated, unused. Remember MUSTIE
  • Train staff to pull items to be evaluated for weeding
  • Communicate with patrons
  • …. No surprises


Arguments for Weeding (to help persuade reluctant weeders)


Weeded Books: Where Should They Go?

Arrange a Trade

  • Trading books between libraries refreshes the collection with minimal expense
  • Sharing resources builds relationships
  • Works best for duplicates of new or recent books


Library Book Sales

  • Physical sales can create goodwill, publicize the library, fundraising for library programs. Volunteer organizations (Friends of the Library) can run sales, lessening staff burden
  • Alternately: books can be sold online. Monitoring sales and shipping books may be more labor-intensive.
  • Storage for unsold books can be problematic.


Book Donation Programs

  • Before sending books to charitable organizations, make sure donated books fit that organization’s collection development policy. Many charitable programs will not accept damaged or irreparable books.


Better World Books

Better World Books is a for-profit social enterprise that collects and sells books online with each sale generating funds for literacy initiatives in the U.S. and around the world.

No-cost program sells books across various internet channels (such as and EBay.) Libraries receive a commission from each sale and a donation is given to their chosen literacy partner.


Prison Book Program

The Prison Book Program, based out of Quincy, MA, mails books to prisoners to support their educational and personal development.


Artistic Repurposing of Weeded Books

  • Libraries can partner with local artists in their community who can utilize used books to create art.
  • Examples of artists who use books in their art:

Mike Stilkey

Ekaterina Panikanova

Alex Queral

  • Ask artists to create altered books from weeds to use in library exhibitions or to circulate amongst library patrons. See Maine’s Portland Public Library and the Maine College of Art’s “Instituting Art: Altered Book Project” (2005).


  • Books that cannot be donated or repurposed can be recycled.
  • Paperback books are 100% recyclable and can be added to “mixed paper” recycling.
  • Hardcover books are more difficult to recycle due to their binding glue. The inside pages should be removed from the spine/cover and recycled.




American Library Association (2014). Sending books to needy libraries: book donation

programs. Accessed November 6, 2014, from

Annoyed Librarian. (2013). Weeding woes in the prairie state. Retrieved from


Berry,John N., I.,II. (1997, 05/15; 2014/11). Making space for real weeds: “weeding” is the wrong metaphor; we planted those books there.122, 6.


Berry,John N., I.,II. (2013, 11/01; 2014/11). The weeding war: “if you must] weed, do it sunday, after midnight”.138, 10.


Better World Books:

Colangelo, L. (2010, October 13). Jamaica library tossing away books like jules verne classics and unworn harry potter paperbacks. New York Daily News


Dilevko, J., & Gottlieb, L. (2003). Weed to achieve: A fundamental part of the public library mission? Library Collections, Acquisitions, and Technical Services, 27(1), 73-96. doi:


Earth911 (2014). How to recycle books & magazines. Accessed November 8, 2014, from

Fenner, A. (2005). Library book sales: A cost–benefit analysis. Library Collections, Acquisitions, and Technical Services, 29(2), 149-168. doi:


Gregory, V. L. (2011). Collection development and management for 21st century library

collections: An introduction. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers.


Hill, D. S. (2003). Selling Withdrawn and Gift Books on eBay: Does It Make Sense?. Journal Of

Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserves, 14(2)


Hogan, C. (2008). Library book sales: Cleaning house or cleaning up? Searcher, 16(3), 36-46.


Larson, J. (2012). Crew: A weeding manual for modern libraries. Austin, Texas: Texas State Library and Archives Commission.


Johnson, P. (2004). Fundamentals of collection development & management. Chicago:

American Library Association.


Library as Incubator Project (2014, Oct. 14). Featuring: Mike Stilkey. Accessed November 8,

2014, from

Metz, P., & Gray, C. (2005). Public Relations and Library Weeding. Journal Of Academic

Librarianship, 31(3), 273-279

Mandel, L. (2007, 04/01; 2014/11). An essential practice.132, 59.


Manley, W. (2014). Treasure or trash heap? American Libraries, 45(1), 80-80.


Manley, W. (1996, 03/01; 2014/11). The manley arts: If I called this column ‘weeding,’ you wouldn’t read it.92, 1108.


McColl, L., & Penniman, S. (2008, September 15). Green weeding: promoting ecofriendly options for library discards. Library Journal, 133(15), 32+. Retrieved from


Nectoux, T. (2013, June 13). “Do you ever read any of the books you [weed]?”. Smile Politely Retrieved from:


Oder, N. (2007, 02/15; 2014/11). Weeding puts fairfax under fire. Library Journal. 132, 17+.


Prison Book Program:


Saricks, J. (2011, 09/01; 2014/11). The lessons of weeding. Booklist 108, 43.


Smith, J. L. (2014, October 19, 2014). War of words: Book purge called necessary, but pains chattanooga public library supporters. Times Free Press


Sutherland, A. (2006, April 23). Wear this book (but bring it back Friday). New York Times.

Accessed November 25, 2014, from

St. Lifer, E. (1997, 05/15). City rebukes philadelphia library on weeding practices. Library Journal. 122, 12.


Weeding books. (2014, 11/19;). Baker City Herald (Baker City, OR)


Young, D. J. (2009, 11/15). Get to effective weeding. Library Journal. 134, 36.



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