Griffin Free Public Library – Auburn, NH

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Weeding Policy

Weeding Policy


Weeding is an essential part of the collection development process, and must be undertaken regularly and systematically as a part of overall collection development. This policy addresses common concerns in the weeding process and delineates guidelines by which various sections of the Griffin Free Public Library Collection will be weeded.


Final authority for the provisions of this document lies with the Board of Trustees of Griffin Free Public Library. The Board has delegated the oversight and implementation of the contents of the policy to the Library Director. The Library Director may assign certain weeding tasks to other staff members, but shall maintain review over all steps of the weeding procedure.

As a professional librarian, the Library Director is obligated to make decisions about the collection without regard to personal biases or feelings. Only the criteria outlined in this document shall be considered when weeding the collection. Additionally, although input from the Board of Trustees, the public, and interested parties may be welcomed, the Library Director shall have sole responsibility in making subjective decisions related to the collection, including weeding.


This section shall outline various areas of the collection, and provide criteria for the weeding of each. Most sections will be designated with a  ratio code containing two numbers. The first number will be the years since copyright date of the item; the second will be the number of years without use. In cases where one of those figures is not relevant, an X will appear.


It is important to recognize that the weeding of any individual title will rely on the use of judgment. Although the criteria in the following points serve as guidelines, there are likely to be exceptions in specific circumstances. However, in general, materials will be selected for weeding when they are in poor condition, factually inaccurate, outdated, superseded by newer or better volumes, have no literary or scientific merit, or irrelevant to the needs of the community. Items that are little used or unused by patrons shall be weeded rapidly in light of the library’s already limited shelving space. Additionally, materials that are duplicates will be candidates for weeding once a single volume is able to meet the demand of users. The Library Director will consider the availability of works through Interlibrary Loan (NHU-PAC) as well as appropriate volumes on collection development for small libraries when making final decisions about a specific volume.

3.2       NONFICTION:

The following sections will outline criteria to be used in the weeding of specific sections of the Dewey Decimal System.

3.3       000: Generalities (10/2)

Volumes in this section are often of trivial interest, and may be kept until interest is no longer reflected in circulation. An important exception to the coded rule lies in volumes on computers, which are quickly outdated and superseded. Items related to computer technologies will be weeded according to a (5/2) scale.

3.4       100: Philosophy and Psychology (10/3)

Volumes eligible for weeding will include “pop psychology” books no longer in vogue as well as worn copies of classical texts (which should be replaced). Usage will also be strongly considered in this section.

3.5       200: Religion and Mythology (10/5)

Griffin Free Public Library should maintain at least one volume in major religions represented in the area surrounding Auburn. Additionally, major world religions and mythology should be represented in some form.

3.6       300: Social Sciences (5/2)

Although some volumes, such as histories of government or finance and folktales and legends, may merit a longer shelf life, many of the volumes in this section will be written – and therefore must be weeded – in a timely manner. Weeding in this section will rely largely on the accuracy and recency of information. In cases of college and test guides, as well as information on financial planning, weeding may occur more frequently as new editions are acquired.

3.7       400: Linguistics and Language (10/5)

Dictionaries and usage guides for languages likely to be spoken or studied in Auburn will comprise this section.

3.8       500: Pure Sciences (10/3)

Certain topics in this area evolve more rapidly than others. Seminal texts in various fields will be kept indefinitely.

3.9       600: Applied Sciences and Technology (5/2)

The wide scope of this Dewey section makes weeding a particular challenge. Some areas, such as medicine and technology, require a ratio closer to (5/1). Others, such as books on collectibles, cookbooks, and car repair guides, can last much longer (10/3). It is important that the library touch on each of the major categories in this section according to the needs and interests of the community.

3.10     700: Arts and Recreation (10/2).

Volumes in this section frequently avoid problems with fading fashion. Instructional texts on crafts, photography, and art, when well composed, can be valuable for many years. These items should be weeded primarily based on lack of use or acquisition of more recent editions. Books on specific craftwork should be kept as long as style remains of interest. Books on film and sports should be kept as long as topics and figures discussed remain current.

3.11     800: Literature (X/X)

Most acquired materials in this area will remain in the collection as long as the volumes remain attractive. The collection should focus on major authors and those of particular local interest, as well as general literary history and theory.

3.12     900: History and Geography (10/3)

Although the quoted ratio will apply to history texts, especially on important eras and events, there are sections that will require different ratios for weeding. In particular, books on travel (4/2) become outdated quickly, while books on current events (4/2) suffer the same fate, especially when dealing with current political figures and commentary. However, local histories (X/X) are likely to be valuable even in the face of low usage and long age.

3.13     Biographies (10/2)

Biographies on significant historical figures may be kept longer than two years even without use. Conversely, biographies of celebrities may be discarded much earlier than 10 years after publication if the figure is no longer popular.

3.14     Adult Fiction (X/2)

Barring physical problems, volumes can be kept as long as they are regularly used Items of significant literary merit may justify being kept longer despite low use, especially when used in local schools or included on lists of significant works.

3.15     Large Print (X/2)

3.16     Children’s Fiction (X/2)

Weed according to same principles as adult fiction while also weeding volumes of brief but fervent interest once interest has waned. Additionally, worn and older copies should be replaced with great diligence.

3.17     Children’s Nonfiction (5/2)

Extra caution must be taken to prevent the continued use of out-of-date or inaccurate texts, due to the inherent problems in simplistic publications and the undeveloped judgment of young readers.

3.18     Young Adult Fiction (X/2)

3.19     Periodicals (6 months/X)

Due to minimal storage space, magazine will be kept for six months after publication. Newspapers will be kept only until existing space runs out, at which point new acquisitions will replace the oldest volume.

3.20     Audiovisual (X/2)

DVDs and audiobooks should be weeded according to condition (i.e. scratches) and lack of use. Broken cases should be replaced in lieu of removing the item from the collection.


In general, the entire collection should be weeded through systematic, ongoing procedures rather than by scheduling weeding for set periods every X number of years. However, the size of the collection and the availability of staff for weeding may prohibit a fully integrated procedure. It is thereby recommended that, in a rotating fashion, each listed area above be thoroughly weeded every 2-3 years. Only through a rigorous schedule can the Griffin Free Public Library collection be kept fresh and vibrant.


It is vital that the library take great care in its treatment of weeded materials so as to reflect the library’s commitment to stewardship of the town’s library collection. Materials will thereby be disposed of via the following methods, listed in order of preference:

  • Selling: most materials no longer fit for inclusion in the collection will be sold during the library’s Annual Book Sale, or as part of the book sale cart kept in the library year-round. Monies from these sales will benefit the library.
  • Donation: Items unsold through the book sale will be donated whenever possible. Groups will be chosen to receive donations based on the organization’s reflection of Griffin Free Public Library goals and their ability to retrieve materials.
  • Recycling: In rare instances, a book may be weeded for reasons that do not permit the item to be sold or donated. In these instances, items will be recycled.


As of the writing of this policy, the Griffin Free Public Library collection displays multiple signs of having gone without proper weeding for a significant time. Amongst these signs are the presence of outdated volumes, overfilled and stuffed shelves, and the storage of volumes outside of their designated areas. In order for the weeding policy to be effective, it is important that a full collection weeding be conducted. This weeding should be conducted in an expedited manner in order to avoid disruption to regular library services and to permit standard weeding and collection development procedures to be instituted as soon as possible.


Approved by GFPL Board of Trustees: August 10, 2012

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Griffin Free Public Library
22 Hooksett Road / PO Box 308
Auburn, NH 03032



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