This policy is intended to provide guidelines in the selection of material to be discarded from the collection.


The de-selection of materials for discard is an important component of collection management. There are several reasons for this: library collections are dynamic rather than static, as new items are added continually; there is an ongoing need to use library space effectively; and information resources become dated in various subject areas. As we move into an era of greater collaboration with other institutions on shared print management and preservation, de-selection is carried out with a wider pool of available resources in mind. The active management of the physical collection should be a regular activity to pro-actively manage the collection’s footprint in relation to space management, quality of materials, and use. Therefore deselection as an ongoing activity is as important as selection.  Deselection should align with the Collection Development policy of the Library.  It is important that faculty should be informed of any weeding projects that affect their use of the collection, in order to sensitize them to the purpose and outcomes, and defuse any concerns.

This policy is intended to provide guidelines in the selection of material to be discarded from the collection, in order to 1) ensure that the print collection is right-sized to meet the diverse needs of our users; 2) that our off-site storage facility is used as effectively as possible; and that 3) we meet our obligations to coordinate preservation of last copies under any collaborative agreements with other institutions.

NB – Weeding of digital content is a less urgent issue that will be addressed using the same principles as this policy in conjunction with our Collection Development Policy, as circumstances require and permit.   

The Library maintains an off-site storage facility (known as the ‘Annexe’) which contains almost a million items of low-use physical material (books, journal volumes, microfiche, audiovisual material, etc.).  These items have been determined to be of low use by subject librarians. A document delivery service for physical items to the university is in place, and a scanning service for journal articles is also in place.  Downsizing this collection based on the criteria below, is important for effective space management and reducing overhead costs. As mentioned above, it is understood that weeding decisions will take into consideration any collaborative agreements that oblige us to assess our holdings against the holdings of other institutions for preservation and access purposes.

It is important to recognize that retention and weeding criteria will vary from discipline to discipline and should be rooted in the practices and needs of diverse groups of researchers and students. What is appropriate for one discipline will not be appropriate for another. Materials in some programs should be withdrawn and replaced with newer publications regularly, while material in others retain their value over time.  This decision-making process should neither jeopardize support for teaching nor research.

The following are criteria that should be considered for discard (i.e. weeding) of physical materials.  It is expected that at least one or more of these criteria will be relevant to any assessment, depending on the subject area and the type of content.

  1. Duplicate items in the same format
  2. Items which no longer supports teaching and research
  3. Items archived in a trusted digital repository, e.g. Scholars Portal.
  4. Duplication of format of items
  5. Items collected by a proximate library
  6. Items in poor physical condition and that no longer support teaching and research   

Subject librarians are responsible for ongoing weeding of items in their areas of responsibility, based on periodic reviews of the collection.  While subject librarians are autonomous in their decision-making regarding weeding of the collection, it is also understood that collection managers have responsibility for ensuring adherence to this policy. 

Weeding involves various services and therefore scheduling and coordination of effort is essential. In deselecting items from the library collection, appropriate workflow steps need to occur to remove the item records and bibliographic records from the catalogue, involving Resource Description and Metadata Services (RDMS). As well, coordinating the logistics of removal of items located at the Annexe is the responsibility of the Acquisitions and Document Delivery Service

Implementation of weeding will need to be aligned with the workload of subject librarians, the state of the collection, space savings targets in relation to renovation projects, and the scale of a weeding initiative. Depending on the scale of deselection, a project plan detailing the goals, timelines, resources, and workflows may need to be developed.  As appropriate, an annual process to plan and coordinate weeding projects, in relation to the above factors, is to be implemented. This is the responsibility of the Collection Managers in collaboration with the Head of Acquisitions, the Head of RDMS, and the AUL Collections.

Collection Development Committee
March 18, 2016

Library Council
April 20, 2016

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