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Deselection (Weeding) Policy

The policy for deselection of materials.

Deselection (Weeding) Policy

Deselection, or weeding, is the removal of library materials that are no longer useful, no longer appropriate, or rarely used. It is a standard practice in managing a library’s collection. An overcrowded library collection with outdated and irrelevant materials can make it difficult for users to find the resources they need. Moreover, as the curriculum of Columbia College evolves, so must the collection evolve in order to adequately support it.

Objectives of Deselection: We deselect in order to provide a collection that is credible, useful, timely and accessible, and to align our collection with users’ needs and the college’s current curriculum.

Stafford Library may, at its sole discretion, remove and withdraw print books and any other materials (e.g., non-book print items, electronic resources and analog media) based on the criteria identified below. Library liaisons shall review, evaluate and deselect materials in their collection areas on a regular basis to ensure collection vitality. Aside from this routine deselection, other, more substantial projects may be undertaken periodically. Circulation and other statistics may be examined. Items that are not in demand may be eligible for deselection. Disciplinary faculty will be consulted regarding larger-scale projects or when the library subject specialist deems appropriate. If no feedback is received within the designated review period (generally two weeks), the items will be withdrawn from the collection. Faculty are welcome to claim deselected items within two weeks after they have been withdrawn.

Materials that are withdrawn from the collection will be subject to all college policies addressing property disposal.

Deselection Criteria

The following criteria will be used determine which materials should be withdrawn from the collection. In all cases, the liaisons will weigh these criteria against their own subject and collection area knowledge.

  • Duplicate copies of the same title and edition may be withdrawn, unless the work has recognized importance or is a high-use title.
  • Materials may be withdrawn if they are factually inaccurate or that have information that is out of date.
  • Textbooks that are not currently used in courses may be withdrawn.
  • If a newer edition of a title is available in the collection, the superseded editions are subject to deselection; however, if they are of historical value, earlier editions may be retained.
  • Materials in damaged or poor condition (missing pages, unreadable text, water damage, poor paper quality, musty, beyond repair, or other factors that prohibit re-binding) may be withdrawn, unless items are rare or difficult to obtain from other libraries. Rare and difficult-to-obtain items may be considered for replacement if they are available for purchase in good condition.
  • Materials that do not support current or anticipated courses or academic needs may be withdrawn.
  • Single or scattered issues of serial titles may be withdrawn.
  • Titles with low circulation or that have never circulated may be withdrawn after seven (7) years.
  • Titles available in other formats in the library or online may be withdrawn, especially when they are low use and not rare.
  • Low-use items that are widely available via MOBIUS may be deselected. If at least three (3) other libraries in MOBIUS own the title, then it is acceptable for the title to be withdrawn.
  • Media materials in obsolete formats may be considered for preservation, replacement, or withdrawal.
  • Areas such as travel guides, medicine, technology, law, and science are of a date-sensitive nature. Items in these subject areas whose information is not current will be withdrawn.
  • Individual items under consideration for deselection should not be removed from multi-volume sets. Either the entire set should be withdrawn or all items in the set should be retained. In the case of incomplete series, the library may either order the missing volume or discard the set.
  • Items listed as missing in the catalog for more than one year will be withdrawn.

Note: If a gift falls under one of these categories, the gift agreement will supersede the deselection criteria.

Materials We Never Withdraw

  • Columbia College Collection (CCC) materials, including books written by faculty members
  • Classics in their field
  • Core materials in each discipline
  • Literary classics
  • Primary sources
  • Works of historical value, as determined by library liaisons

Deselection Guidelines of Date-Sensitive Areas

Items in the following areas will be considered for deselection after these timelines.

  • Computer Science older than 3 years (except UNIX, Open VMS, Cobol, Fortran)
  • Science older than 3 years (except History of Science, Botany and Science)
  • Technology and Applied Science older than 3 years
  • Library Science older than 3 years except for theory and history
  • Occupational Guides, résumé guides, etc. older than 3 years
  • Financial Management older than 5 years
  • Travel books older than 3 years
  • Health, Medicine, Nutrition and Nursing older than 3 years
  • Psychology older than 10 years (except Biography, History of Psychology, and Psychological Theory)
  • Physical Education older than 10 years
  • Atlases older than 3 years
  • Study prep guides (GRE, MCAT, etc.) older than 3 years
  • Popular Collection older than 3 years, unless transferred to general collection

Please contact Susan Townsend at with questions and/or comments.

Portions of this policy are adapted from the Jack K. Williams Library at Texas A&M University at Galveston and Cal State East Bay University Libraries.

Published January 2023.