Skip to Main Content

Special Interest Group Archive: Collection Development 12/8/2021

These are the notes from meetings dating back to 2015.

December 8, 2021

The group met via Zoom on December 8, 2021. The meeting was facilitated by Sarah Northshield of Pearl River Library.


We began our Zoom group by discussing the Chatham House Rules, along with Community Agreements for meetings.  Then we moved along to discussing various aspects of Collection Development.


  • A public librarian stated that she is pro-weeding, and weeds her nonfiction (cookbooks, biographies, 000-900’s) and Mystery Books on an annual basis.  Due to spacing restraints, there is no choice but to make room for new books because once they are removed from the “new shelf” they are of course interfiled with the older books.
  • An academic librarian who is relatively new to the job stated that she needs to weed, but has many other duties to attend to.  Her staffing situation is a bit limited, as there are not as many librarians and clerks as there were pre-pandemic.  
  • Another librarian believes weeding is important because in her school district, there is a desire from the public for the latest and greatest fiction and non-fiction books.

When asked if librarians (both academic and public) had Collection Development policies, the replies were either “no”, or “unsure”.

  • A public librarian stated that adult reference hasn’t weeded in about 20 years.  She is a children’s librarian and weeds regularly, and has also given away the books for free to patrons.  However, this backfired because a bond referendum was voted down, and the “giving away of books” was a factor in this procedure.  She either weeds shelf-by-shelf or by using a dusty list.  She states a “tube sock” role which means that if the characters on the book cover are wearing tube socks, they book should be purged.  Her library also purged 4 sets of encyclopedias not too long ago.  
  • An adult public librarian also gave away free books last winter when the library was shut down.  Patrons LOVED this, and they were placed outdoors each day on a rolling cart.  Once the library’s bookstore opened in the spring of 2021 the cart was discontinued so that the “freebies” wouldn’t be in conflict with them (the library bookstore’s sales). 
  • In relation to ‘tossing’ old books, an academic librarian mentioned that she has torn off the covers of hardcover books, in order to put the inner pages in the recycling bin.   She also said that while some Technology and Science books have been weeded, that many of the other collections have gone 20-30 years without being touched.  She also mentioned that perhaps they (the librarians) could collaborate with circulation in order to possibly weed.  However, they are busy in their department with other projects but can perhaps grab books that are being returned that are in poor condition, or those they see in their travels through the library.
  • A public librarian also mentioned that sometimes she will create a display to give books another chance.  Furthermore, they will use the CREW and MUSTY methods for weeding.  Some highly popular books such as Harry Potter or Diary of a Wimpy Kid will need to be replaced due to heavy use.  Other formerly popular series such as Dora the Explorer have lost their limelight.   
  • A public librarian mentioned that she worked with a librarian who refused to use newer or more recent materials for a display.
  • Another public librarian stated that she is unfortunately familiar with “vacation weeding” where a staffer goes away and finds s/he has had their collection pared down.  She also mentioned some VERY old books she has come across or seen in her tenure of library employment such as The Negro Almanac and books on the Apple II computer.
  • The academic librarian at the meeting stated that sometimes librarians need to know when it would be wise just to ILL the occasional need for a book versus keeping it at the library.
  • A public librarian suggested that having a well-kept, attractive and current collection shows a good and responsible use of the patrons’ tax monies.
  • A couple of librarians mentioned purchasing lightly used books when their current copy is out of print/unusable, but still in demand by patrons.  Even if a specific librarian weeds their collection, another librarian may have the final say in this decision.  
Southeastern NY Library Resources Council
21 South Elting Corners Road | Highland, NY 12528
Phone: (845) 883-9065