Deaccessioning or “weeding” of library materials is an integral part of maintaining a functional and useable library collection. The criteria applied to selection also form the basis for removal of library materials, but some additional considerations are also employed. The following general guidelines may be used when materials are under consideration for deaccessioning:
Collins Library does not automatically replace all materials withdrawn due to loss, damage, or wear; decisions concerning the replacement of individual items are made by liaison librarians and may take into consideration demand for the specific item, fit with current curriculum and collection development policy, and number of copies held locally and within the Orbis Cascade Alliance.
The library uses a variety of means to dispose of surplus materials, which may be deselected materials or gift materials which do not meet our collection needs. For example, some options include sharing with other libraries or organizations, redistributing via offsite vendors that specialize in selling discarded library materials, offering to the staff senate book sale, reusing in artistic endeavors for classes or for the makerspace, recycling the physical materials, and discarding to trash when no other option is found.
Because scholars in the humanities require access to a wide and diverse spectrum of library materials, published over a range of time, a conservative deselection policy is applied in these areas.
To support unique and varied modes of interpretation, the library retains a wide range of physical materials, including variant editions and translations of primary texts, specialized editions unique to the fine and performing arts, and other non-print materials such as visual media and audio recordings. The use of print library materials in the humanities is more unpredictable, thus the range of time for usage statistics, when used to make decisions about weeding, is more generous. Additional factors considered in deselection decisions for the humanities include aesthetic value and physical characteristics, such as bindings, texture of paper, and the quality of printing and illustrations; historical or artifactual significance; retention of unique and specialized editions to support comparative scholarship; and maintaining the diversity of the collection.
In practice, these considerations require Collins Library to maintain a more generous physical collection in support of the humanities than it does for the sciences and the social sciences. Any switch to digital facsimiles must look closely at the stability of the platforms and the anticipated uses of the materials.
Currency of data and accuracy are important elements to science scholarship so materials may be deselected when the scientific facts change or are erroneous. This general principle varies depending on area of science. Primary sources which may be of particular use to the study of the history of science and technology may be retained longer than they would otherwise because they support this curricular path. Recognized landmark works will be retained.
Extra consideration for retention may be given to materials which support the work of students in our liberal arts curriculum, rather than those supporting fields which are not directly part of the teaching and learning at Puget Sound (e.g., engineering, agriculture).
Social sciences must maintain a balance of diverse historical, foundational, and current materials to support the curriculum in these disciplines. The emphasis should be on maintaining a breadth of current scholarship, while also retaining primary works by influential social scientists.