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East Campus Library Weeding Process: Guideline for Weeding Nonfiction by Classification

"What happened to that book that was never checked out?"


A – General Collection

Guinness Book of World Records and similar titles - keep current edition and one previous edition.

Atlases - weed superseded edition and those that do not reflect current conditions, even if new edition is not available. A limited number of atlases may be needed for genealogy and historical purposes and, therefore, should not be weeded; these are generally held by Main Library.

 B - Philosophy, Psychology, Religion, Etiquette, etc.

Philosophy - weed on condition and use; should maintain a core collection. Retain specific philosophical viewpoints, e.g. existentialism. Retain landmark philosophies that shaped history.

Parapsychology/Occult - weed on condition and use.        

Psychology - weed on condition and use; "pop" psychology titles older than three to five years should be weeded unless author is well known. Keep psychology textbooks for five years only. Review for detailed theories, pictures and concepts.

Religion - weed on condition, keeping current basic material on all religions and sects for a representative collection, especially reflecting your community's beliefs. Keep titles of popular nature no more than five years unless author is well known.

Mythology - weed only on condition for Greek and Roman mythology; others should be judged on use.      

Etiquette - weed titles more than five years old. Weed outdated concepts and replace with current material.

C - Archeology, Genealogy, Coins and Flags

Coins – discard price guides after one to two years unless of historical value.

Archeology – weed on condition and use.

Genealogy – weed on condition and use.

Flags – weed out-of date books.

D – History, Current Affairs

General History – weed on condition, use, accuracy of fact and fairness of interpretation.

Current Affairs – weed after three to five years.

E – History of North America, including the United States

History – weed on condition and use.

Current Conditions – weed after three to five years.

F – State and Local History, Central and South America

History – weed on condition and use.

Current Conditions – weed after three to five years.

Local History – retain all local history as condition and use warrant.

G - Geography, Anthropology, and Recreation

Anthropology – watch for new developments, discoveries and theories.

Sports/Games – weed for out-of-date rules, generally three years and older.

Geography – watch for dated material, changes in countries’ names. Weed road atlases and maps after three years.

H – Social Sciences

Economics, Business and Personal Finance—all age rapidly. Watch for titles that do not reflect recent trends. Except for histories and some classical theoretical texts, almost all material is out of date after three to five years.

Investment – must be kept current. Weed as interest wanes in a particular type of investment. “Classic” works (those of historical or theoretical value) may be retained according to usage.

Real Estate – watch for changes in real estate law, financing, taxes.

Sociology - weed on condition and use. Weed "pop" sociology titles more than three to five years old unless author is well known.  Weed true crime titles according to demand, use, condition, and timeliness, generally after three to five years, unless author is well known.

Weed titles that do not reflect current understanding and treatment of social problems. The collection should present a diversity of life styles and maintain a balance on controversial issues.

J - Political Science

Weed on condition, use and timeliness. Watch for titles that contain out-of-date information on government office holders, etc. Texts on citizenship must be current. Keep popular titles up to three years; historical titles up to five years.

K - Law

Law titles which pertain to property ownership, real estate, estate planning, probate, wills, business, real estate investment trusts, income tax, pension, social security and taxes should be weeded after three to five years and checked regularly for accuracy and timeliness. Books that are superseded by a new edition should be discarded.

 Weed out-of-date titles on the Constitution and Supreme Court.

L – Education

Weed on condition, use, and for out-of-date theory and methodology. Keep historical information if used.

M-N - Music and the Arts

Music - weed on condition and use. Keep histories and basic material, especially songbooks.

Fine Arts - weed on condition and use. Keep standard art history titles, checking for condition and quality of illustrations.

Architecture - keep historical material and weed on condition and use.

Antiques - keep basic books, without prices, based on use and condition. Weed price guides after three years.

Interior Design - weed according to taste changes.

Drawing and Painting - keep five to ten years as use and condition warrant.

Sculpture - keep history according to condition. Keep techniques five to ten years.

P - Literature and Language

Literature - weed on condition and use. Dictionaries should reflect current usage; books on grammar may be kept up to ten years. Maintain representative collections of anthologies. Keep basic materials, especially criticism of classic writers. Retain standard reference titles that are out-of-print. Consideration must be given to local/area student reading lists, local authors, and special collections.

Poetry - keep basic authors; check for use of minor poets.

Plays - keep, based on interest and condition.

Humor - keep fresh and new; much is dated after five years, but retain standards.

Languages - discard outdated and unattractive textbooks and grammars and weed according to use. Stock dictionaries for languages being studied and/or spoken in your community.

Folklore/Fairy Tales - weed as use and condition justify. Fairy and folk tales should reflect a range of countries and cultures. Regional folklore should be represented.

Q - Science

Science needs to be continually evaluated and kept up-to-date. Watch for new discoveries and theories. Computer science, electronics, and space science age rapidly and must be weeded in an on-going fashion. Mathematics, chemistry and botany do not change as quickly, but should be reviewed regularly. The history of science should be weeded sparingly. Retain most science biographies.

Computers - evaluate theory and application. Discard personal computer theory after five to ten years.

Mathematics – mathematics does change, especially in teaching style and course emphasis. Histories should be up to date. Discard fad materials and old technology such as “new math,” slide rules, finger math, etc. Keep logic and basic math for ten years. Certain titles may be considered classics and should be retained indefinitely.

Astronomy – Watch for changes in planet, solar system and universe information. Currency is important. Stargazing changes less rapidly, but equipment is updated.

Chemistry and Physics – chemistry and physics are areas that change rapidly. Check for the correct number of elements in the Periodic Table.

Geology – check for updated theories and terms. For example, plate tectonics rather than continental drift.

Paleontology and Dinosaurs – watch for new developments and new theories (e.g. new information about dinosaurs).

Biology and Genetics – In general weed after five to ten years, however watch for new discoveries and theories, which are frequent in human biology and especially genetics. Weed genetics after three to five years.

Microbiology - weed after five years

Anatomy and Physiology - anatomy may be retained almost indefinitely; physiology should be weeded after five to ten years

Classic works in all fields of science should be retained indefinitely, such as Darwin, Einstein, Newton and Audubon.

Science Experiments - weed out-of-date science fair materials as they may contain potentially harmful compounds or dangerous chemical experiments.

R – Medicine

Books in this field must be evaluated regularly and all obsolete materials must be discarded, especially in areas such as pharmacology and therapeutics. Retain classics and related books written by authorities on subjects still referred to by today’s physicians.

The American Medical Association recommends that all books on medicine and health, including diet and nutrition, be no more than three to five years old.

Standard works from such organizations as the AMA, ADA, Mayo Clinic and related health care settings should be retained until new editions are available.

Watch for changes in the theory and treatment of specific conditions and diseases that necessitate weeding more frequently. Do not put older medicine and health titles in book sales.

S – Plant and Animal Science

Gardening – weed on condition, use and timeliness. Watch for changes in hybrids and gardening techniques, use of pesticides, and the handling of lawn and garden waste.

Pets – Veterinary medicine parallels human medicine and must be kept current. Animal training should be kept as use and popularity indicate. Be aware that breed standards change.

T – Technology, Handicrafts, and Home Economics

Technology – watch for changes in equipment, methods and fads. Otherwise, weed on condition and use. History of technology should be retained indefinitely.

Inventions – the history of inventions and inventors may be kept indefinitely unless condition dictates withdrawal.

Cookbooks – weed based on condition, demand, and cookery style. Retain those with historical value.

Handicrafts – weed based on demand, retain basic technique books if well illustrated.

Sewing and Grooming – sewing, makeup and hairstyling books all date quickly; weed outdated fashions and styles.

Photography – check for outdated techniques and equipment. Collections and histories may be kept as long as use, condition and space allows.

Appliance and Auto Repair - keep as long as interest and use dictate.            

U-V – Military Science, Naval Science

Weed on condition and use. Watch for changes in military hardware and technology.

Armed Forces test guides must be kept current.

Z – Bibliography and Library Science

Bibliographies – must have supporting material easily accessible.

Library Science – discard all practical guides that do not conform to current practice and technologies. Retain histories according to usage.

From The Carnegie Library document on Collection Development.

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