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Stocktaking and Weeding. Secret library business or essential collection development activities? Renate Beilharz. Secret Library Business. Library is ‘closed’ for stocktaking No perceivable outcome to the average user Weeding is rarely done flamboyantly

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stocktaking and weeding

Stocktakingand Weeding

Secret library business or essential collection development activities?

Renate Beilharz

Bulding on essentials! 16 October 2006

secret library business
Secret Library Business
  • Library is ‘closed’ for stocktaking
  • No perceivable outcome to the average user
  • Weeding is rarely done flamboyantly
  • Weeded items are ‘hidden’ from staff
  • Lack of understanding of the purpose of these activities
collection development policy
Collection Development Policy
  • Purpose of the collection
  • Type of material in the collection
  • Selection criteria and processes
  • Budgeting policy
  • Weeding criteria
  • Stocktaking processes
  • Dealing with controversial material
purpose of a school library collection
Purpose of a School Library Collection
  • Reflect needs of the users
  • Support and enrich the curriculum
  • Encourage and develop a love of reading
  • To be accessible to all users
a school library collection needs to be
A school library collection needs to be:
  • Relevant
  • Accessible
  • Attractive

Stocktaking and weeding are complementary activities necessary for achieving these goals

stocktaking objectives
Stocktaking objectives
  • Ensure that the database reflects the actual collection
  • Identify errors in cataloguing and processing
  • Identify areas which have losses
  • Identify areas of strength and weakness for ongoing collection development
other purposes of stocktake
Other purposes of stocktake
  • Each resource is handled at least once a year
  • Perfect ordering resources
  • Identify misplaced items
  • Tidying the shelves
  • Check links for electronic


  • Finds the books that haven’t been checked in correctly
you want to do what
You want to do what???
stocktaking positive pr
Stocktaking – Positive PR
  • Write a Collection Development Policy, including stocktaking
  • Talk to the school community about the reasons for stocktaking
  • Consider alternative ways to stocktake that do not involved closing completely
  • Involve members of the school community in the process where practical
hints for stress free stocktaking
Hints for stress free stocktaking
  • Read the manual
  • Check the equipment and clarify the physical processes
  • Run a trial stocktake of a small collection
  • Ensure that processes are clearly documented and understood by staff
  • Decide which collections are to be stocktaken
more hints
More hints

Make a check list of collections and tasks

  • Take the time to shelf read, this will help when dealing with anomalies
  • Leave enough time to rectify anolmalies
  • Be realistic in what you can get done in the time allocated – you don’t have to do all collections each year
  • Enjoy the task, it can be rewarding
after stocktaking
After stocktaking
  • Run all relevant reports and final procedures
  • Make sure you change the status of missing items
  • Create a written report for administration and staff
  • Celebrate another job well done
weeding objectives
Weeding objectives
  • To have a collection that is
    • Current
    • Relevant
    • Attractive and presentable
  • To give an accurate picture of the quality of the collection
  • To make room for new resources

It does not matter how many books you may have, but whether they are good or not. Lucius Annaceus Senecca


Small, but high quality collections are infinitely better. And this is why. Continuous, thoughtful weeding:

  • Rids your collections of sexist, racist and just plain inaccurate materials.
  • Makes the good stuff easier to find and more appealing.
  • Sends the message that the library may not be adequately funded.

weeding criteria mustie
Weeding criteria - MUSTIE

Misleading – factually inaccurate

Ugly – worn beyond mending

Superseded – new edition or better information

Trivial – no literary or scientific merit

Irrelevant – to needs of school

Elsewhere – material easily borrowed or available from another source

weeding criteria quantative
Weeding criteria - Quantative
  • Borrowing statistics
    • Usage over a period of time
  • Date of publication
    • Item older than a certain date
excuses not to weed
Excuses not to weed
  • A large collection looks good
  • I hate throwing things away
  • If I pulled everything off that should go, I wouldn’t have a collection left
  • My principal/teachers won’t let me weed
  • I haven’t the funds to replace discarded items

Poorly weeded collections are not the sign of poor budgets but of poor librarianship. Period. Only two things can happen if library material replacement budgets are inadequate. The collection ages if the librarian does not weed. The collection gets smaller if the librarian does weed. That’s it.


Whether fortunate or unfortunate, many people regard books as sacred objects and have difficulty throwing them away. An industrial arts teacher at Evelyn’s school glares at me to this day, claiming he hurt his back climbing out of the dumpster into which I had thrown away some “perfectly good books.” What he did not understand and we need to remember is that it is not books that are sacred, but the thoughts, inspiration, and accurate information they contain.

weeding positive pr
Weeding – positive PR
  • Including weeding criteria in your Collection Development Policy
  • Talk to the school community, keep good examples of weeded items to show
  • Involve relevant staff, using their expertise in specialist areas
  • Use the opportunity to identify and advertise under utilised resources, and promote newly purchased material
hassle free weeding
Hassle free weeding
  • Decide on clear, justifiable criteria
  • Don’t try to weed your whole collection at once – do a little at a time
  • Get the support of at least one other staff member
  • Do it in secret under the cover of a dark moon, destroying all evidence as you go
helpful hints
Helpful hints
  • Discard old editions of texts immediately
  • Be sure to weed AV material
  • Check online content of sites to ensure relevance and currency
  • If in doubt about a subject area, weed with teachers
after weeding
After weeding
  • If unsure about some items, have someone else check them
  • Remember to delete records from the catalogue
  • Stamp the items ‘DISCARDED’ or ‘WEEDED’
  • Remove any circulation stationary
  • Keep a record of number of discards
getting rid of an item
Getting rid of an item
  • Donate it
  • Recycle it
  • Sell it
  • Discard it
fun with weeding
Fun with weeding
  • If it isn't clean, it will be thrown away
  • If it doesn't look good, it will be thrown away
  • if it can't be managed, it will be thrown away
  • If it is abused, it will be thrown away
  • If it can't be identified, it will be thrown away
  • If it has no use, it will be thrown away
  • If it needs batteries, it will be thrown away
  • If it needs bulbs, it will be thrown away
  • If it needs a manual, it will be thrown away
  • If it's operation isn't inherently obvious, it will be thrown away
  • If it was a gift from a faculty member who hasn't been seen since, it will be thrown away
  • if it was a gift from the principal, keep it.

Lamb, Annette and Larry Johnson 2005, Collection maintenance and weeding

  • RFID tags
  • Shelf reading, shelving,

sorting, searching,



Baumbach, Donna J. and Linda L.. Miller 2006, Less is more: a practical guide to weeding school library collections, American Library Association, Chicago.

Johnson, Doug 2003, Weed!

Lamb, Annette and Larry Johnson 2005, Collection maintenance and weeding

Punshon, Marianne (ed.) 2006 Managing for learning: issues for primary school libraries, SLAV, Carlton, Vic.

The SLAV website has links to many relevant sites related to this topc.