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Weeding Management 1

Weeding Management Policy

Laurie Bryant

FRIT 7132, Spring 2010

Georgia Southern University

Dr. Melissa Allen

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Weeding Management Policy

An essential component of any media center policy handbook is the weeding policy. In

order to have an updated and current library collection, a weeding, or deselecting policy must be

in place. A media center that does not have a weeding policy, is only asking for problems. Issues

can arise regarding the disposal of library materials and in the way in which they were

deselected, so a detailed and precise policy that addresses the concerns of weeding, such as what

materials are weeded and why, would eliminate those concerns, if a question ever arose. The

current media center policy handbook for Franklin County Schools does not address the

important task of weeding. Four aspects to consider when weeding include the criteria used to

weed materials from the collection, the method used to weed the collection, how library

materials will be disposed of when weeded, and how often weeding should occur.

The first consideration when developing a weeding management policy is what kind of

criteria should be used to weed materials. Media centers may vary in their criteria for weeding,

but according to Jefferson County Schools in Kentucky, materials in poor physical condition

should be weeded from the collection. Materials that are too worn to be repaired, have missing

pages, are badly soiled, or have broken tape need to be removed. If the book is historical, it

should be removed when newer editions become available. Historical books should be placed in

a special collection if they have some archival value (2009). Since most media centers are in a

crunch with budget issues, there may not be enough funds to purchase updated books, so

weeding may not occur as often because of this. Media specialists may be more reluctant to

remove books from the collection, if there is not enough money to replace them. Besides the

physical appearance, other criteria may be used as well in weeding, such as the content of the
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book and the copyright. Does the book support the current curriculum of the school system?

Does it meet the needs of students and teachers? Looking at the copyright date can be a big clue

as to how outdated a book is and if it is still circulated. If a long period goes by without the book

being circulated, this could be a sign that it is out of date and of no use to students or teachers

anymore (Weeding the school library). There are also some materials that should remain and not

be weeded, but possibly be removed from general circulation. Some examples include books that

are out of print, rare items, those with local titles, and core collection books (Lamb & Johnson,

2007, p. 2).

The next consideration should be what method is to be used for weeding the collection.

There are a couple of methods available to library media specialists, the CREW and MUSTY

methods. These are both very effective weeding methods that can be used in a systematic

fashion. The California Department of Education recommends the MUSTY method. This is an

acronym for Misleading, Ugly, Superseded, Trivial, and Your Collection. The step by step

guidelines for MUSTY can be located at (Weeding the school

library). “The acronym CREW stands for Continuous, Review, Evaluation, and Weeding.

CREW is a cyclical process because one step leads to the next. 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” (Lamb & Johnson, 2007, p. 4). The CREW method of weeding manual

can be located at Either procedure chosen for

weeding will help maintain an updated and attractive collection.

The third consideration when weeding is what will happen to the materials once they are

deselected from the collection. With the process of weeding, there will be some feelings of guilt

because media specialists do not like to throw away print and non print materials from the
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collection. “With changing needs in the curriculum and limited space for expansion, you don’t

have a choice” (Lamb & Johnson, 2007, p. 2). What should be done with all the weeded

materials? According to the State of Iowa DOE, the issue of discarding weeded materials can be

a tricky one. There are not enough second-hand dealers around who want to help schools and

libraries relieve themselves of weeded materials. Some of the methods suggested by the Iowa

DOE include; recycling if possible, bag and tag for destruction purposes, take materials to the

dump, offer them to a charity book sale, and box and send to the superintendent. There are more

suggestions, but it is made clear that the library media specialist needs to keep in mind that

whatever discarding method is used, it needs to be in “harmony with the school policy” (1994).

The final consideration in the weeding policy is to determine how often the deselection

process should take place. The California DOE recommends having an informal and formal

weeding time. The informal weeding process occurs as materials are checked in or checked out.

The formal weeding process is planned and happens at certain rotation intervals, which allows a

more systematic approach (Weeding the school library). Gordon states that a “systematic

schedule should be set up for examining the collection” (1983). Many librarians prefer to weed

the collection on an informal basis, possibly keeping some type of record as to what was weeded,

and then completing a systematic review at a later date (Gordon, 1983, para. 3).

Developing a weeding management policy is essential to keeping a library collection up

to date and keeping it attractive for our patrons. The library media specialist has a duty to uphold

a collection of materials that fits the needs of our teachers and students. If the library collection is

not weeded on a regular basis, patrons will decide not to frequent the library, and this is not what

we as professionals want to happen. According to the Georgia DOE rule, 160-4-4.01 Media

Programs, a media policy shall exist that “requires development of procedures for the school
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system” (1998). The policy should include a weeding process that is clear and concise. The

deselection process is a procedure that should be included in the Franklin County Schools

handbook, but currently is not. According to Handis, the collection policy serves two purposes.

First, it should let others know what is in the collection and what is retained, the different criteria

used in collecting materials, and how the weeded materials are discarded. Second, the policy

protects library media specialists in times of question and in times of raised issues, which could

be the most important reason of all to have one (2007). Weeding is essential, although some

media specialists consider it a chore, it must be done on a regular basis. Some may avoid the task

of weeding because of a fear of discarding materials by accident or maybe because of a lack of

desire to complete the task (Handis, 2007). In the light of this, library media specialists must

remember that our first and foremost responsibility is to our patrons, so this entails a thorough

and detailed policy that allows the library its right to updated and attractive materials.
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California Department of Education, Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources

Division. Weeding the school library: the counterpart to selection. Sacramento, CA.

Retrieved March 21, 2010, from

Gordon, A. (1983, September). Weeding: keeping up with the information explosion. School

Library Journal, 45-46.

Handis, M. W. (2007). Practical advice for weeding in small academic libraries. Collection

Building, Vol.26, 84-87. Retrieved March 24, 2010, from


Jefferson County Schools, Kentucky. (26 May, 2009). Weeding library materials. Retrieved

March 21, 2010, from

Lamb, A. & Johnson, L. (2007). Information access and delivery: collection maintenance and

weeding. Retrieved March 24, 2010, from

State of Georgia. (15 June, 1998). Media Programs Requirements. Retrieved March 21, 2010,


State of Iowa - Department of Education. (1994). Weeding the library media center collections.

DesMoines, Iowa. Retrieved March 24, 2010, from http://www.iema-