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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
AP 252 - Resource Centre Weeding


Resource Centers are an integral part of the school operation. To ensure balance, reliability and comprehensiveness, the development of a collection of resources must be carefully planned. An underlying principle of planned collection is evaluation. Several principles should be fundamentally supported in each school setting:

  • Weeding is an activity that is premised upon informed professional
  • judgment and a carefully articulated plan;
  • Weeding ensures that the school library collection contains only those
  • materials accurate, current and relevant to the curricula and recreational
  • programs of the school;
  • Weeding removes the outward illusion of a well-stocked resource collection.
  • Weeding facilitates access to quality resources; and
  • Weeding results in more effective utilization of space and assures an
  • Aesthetically appealing collection of materials.

Weeding is an essential part of the library personnel’s responsibility in the school. Systematic weeding is not an irresponsible disposal of school property; rather it is a needed service that will enhance the credibility and use of the school library. An occasional mistake is far less serious than the cumulative effect of a weed-cluttered collection, as a strong, supporting, school library collection can assist students and teachers in the educational process. A planned method of weeding is an integral part of maintaining such a collection.

By providing resources that are appropriate to the total school program, the school library and the library resource personnel will be a more effective part of the educational process.

When to Weed

The best time of year to weed, and when a good purge is needed, is best decided by the librarian or teacher librarian in each school.  It does relate well with inventory since the entire collection is being viewed at that time.  It is best to do it when there will be the least interruption to the circulation and school program.  Be cautious not to over weed when it is the first year working in the location.  

Weeding should be done:

  • Continuously - This involves constant weeding on a day-to-day basis as resources are catalogued and shelved.
  • Intermittently throughout the school year when time allows.
  • May be done in conjunction with inventory.
  • Specific sections of the collection are identified as requiring weeding. Weeding is done by the librarian or teacher-librarian and a record is kept of areas which have been weeded. Some sections need it more often than others.  Teaching staff is encouraged to assist.
  • Periodically, a part of, or an entire professional day can be allocated to weeding the school library collection. This helps build a climate of cooperation and ownership for renewal of the school library collection.
  • With help -- Initial identification of weeds can involve the whole staff.  An email can be sent to ask if the staff have any suggestions of books that should no longer be in the library.
  • Librarian or teacher-librarian should organize this activity and makes final decisions regarding discards.


1.  What materials to weed

1.1.  Obvious weeds

1.1.1.  Worn and damaged titles;

1.1.2.  Superseded editions of current volumes such as almanacs and statistical yearbooks. Different years of the same manual should not appear on the shelves if one cumulates and/or updates the other.

1.1.3.  Where there are duplicates and none seem to be in circulation or used, all unnecessary duplicates should be discarded. At a later date, the single copy would be reconsidered for weeding.

1.2.  Thoughtful weeds

1.2.1.  Materials containing information not easily accessible

      • No table of contents
      • No index
      • Content poorly organized
      • Back issues of periodicals that are not indexed

1.2.2.  Materials that contains outdated, inaccurate factual content; outdated interpretations, values and/or attitudes.

1.2.3.  Material for which format or reading level is inappropriate to the reading and/or interest level of the students.

1.2.4.  Material, which is no longer in demand, or which no longer supports the curriculum.

1.2.5.  Material that is not circulated in 5-10 years.

1.2.6.  Resources that model encourage or reinforce actions or beliefs which indicate a prejudgment or disrespect of an individual or group action.

1.2.7.  Resources which do not conform with copyright legislation


      • Videos without public performance rights
      • Pirated software
      • Photocopied print material

2.  Specific Guides in Weeding

000 Generalities: Value determined by use. Works on computers dated after 3 years.

100 Ethics: Value determined by use.

200 Religion: Value determined by use. Collection should contain basic information about as many sects and religions as possible.

300 Social Sciences: Discard outdated social issues, which are not of historical value. Controversial issues should be well represented from all sides.

320 Political Science: Discard outdated political issues, which are not of historical value. Controversial issues should be well represented from all sides.

330 Economics: Information dates quickly. To be weeded after 15 years, if not replaced sooner. Books of historical value keep according to use.

340 Law: Should be replaced as soon as more current material is available.

350 Government: Dated after 15 years.

360 Social problems: Weeding depends on use.

370 Education: Keep historical materials if they will be used. Weed discredited theories of education.

380 Commerce: Weed after 15 years except for historical materials.

390 Customs & Folklore: Keep standard use. Weed according to use.

400 Language: Discard old grammars. Keep basic materials.

500 Pure Sciences: Examine closely anything over 10 years old, except for botany and natural history.

600 Technology: Most materials outdated after 10-15 years. Give special attention to those dealing with drugs, space and technology, sex education, radio, television, medicine (e.g. Aids materials to be discarded after 15 years) Check to see if resources contain information of historical value.

700 Arts: Keep basic works in music and art. Replace with new editions containing better illustrations. Discard and replace sports and recreational material as interests change.

800 Literature: Keep literary criticism and history until superseded by more authoritative works. Keep works by local people.

900 History: Weeding depending on use, demand, accuracy of fact and fairness of interpretation. Weed superseded editions.

1000 Travel: Weed travelogues after 15 years unless they are of historical value.

1100 Biography: Unless subject has permanent interest or importance, discard when demand wanes.

1200 Fiction: Weed old-fashioned, dated titles that have not circulated in 5-10 years. “Classics” to be replaced as new, more attractive editions are made available.

1300 Encyclopedias: Dated after 10 years.

1400 Almanacs, yearbooks and statistical publications: Superseded by each new volume.

1500 Atlases: Dated after 10 years.

1600 Periodicals: Do not keep longer than 2 years unless indexed. Consider shelving and storage space.

1700 Newspapers: Non-indexed titles keep one week. Indexed titles keep no more than 2 years.

1800 Vertical File: Keep only current information not found in other available sources.

1900 Maps and Globes: Check for currency, accuracy and metrication.

2000 Picture Files: Weed dated and physically damaged pictures.

2100 Professional Library: Most materials are inappropriate after 10-15 years. Weed items, which no longer support the curriculum.

3.  What Not to Weed

3.1.  The “classics” - award winners and those items which appear on current core bibliographies;
3.2.  Items which may be out-of-print and which may still have some possible value;
3.3.  Materials of local interest, local history;
3.4.  Materials unique in content, format, illustrative technique;

3.5.  Expensive items.

4.  Weeding Procedures

4.1.  All cards for any title that is being de-accessioned should be withdrawn. (Delete item from L4U)

4.2.  In order that discarded books will not be returned they will be stamped with a note such as “discarded” where every school stamp appears.

4.3.  Discards can be sold or given away, but initially, they are to be made available to staff for teaching purposes in classrooms, then ripped up privately saving only useful pictures and articles for vertical file. Discards can then be disposed of at a recycling depot.

4.4.  On rare occasions, an item may be valued as memorabilia. The book must be appropriately inscribed for this purpose before giving it away.

4.5.  Consider what has been removed and note any resulting priorities for future purchase in the Needs Analysis for Collection Development.

4.6.  Another type of weeded resources include resources of possible use in other school resource libraries within the District. These materials would include:

    • Duplicates of currently valuable titles.  Resources for which format or reading level is no longer appropriate to the reading and/or interest level of the students in your school. It is the teacher-librarian's responsibility to arrange at the school for appropriate relocation either through redistribution to feeder schools or to other schools in the district.
    • On rare occasions, an item may be valued as memorabilia. The book must be appropriately inscribed for this purpose before giving it away.

Reference:  Sections 85, 87, 109, 175, Education Act
Section 37, Education Regulations
Policy and Guidelines for School Libraries in Saskatchewan

January 12, 2011