Weeding Criteria and Guidelines
The Hope College Library collection continuously evolves to support the curriculum, college mission, and student needs.
Periodically, items will be removed using the following criteria and guidelines: age, condition, online availability, relevance to the curriculum, and use. These items are addressed in detail below.
Age refers to how old the work is as measured by date of publication. The latest imprint date will be used to determine age.
- Published since 1860: May have become brittle due to acid in the paper. Refer to the section on "condition" for instructions.
- Imprint date prior to current public domain date: Candidates for withdrawal or transfer to a special collection. No item in the collection should be withdrawn simply on the basis of age, but age can be a contributing factor in de-selection decisions.
- Obsolescence: Consider how quickly information becomes dated in a given discipline, and select candidates for withdrawal based on that period of obsolescence.
A complex set of factors should be considered when deciding the fate of a particular item. Selectors should remember that material can be treated in house, sent to a binder or replaced. If the text is valuable enough to keep, we will find a way to preserve it. If the text does not meet retention criteria based on appropriateness or age, condition may tip the keep-or-discard balance.
- Condition of paper: Brittle paper is the result of chemical impurities combined with the effects of heat, light, and air pollution. A simple test of paper strength is the three-fold test: fold an inconspicuous corner back and forth three times; if it breaks or tears the paper is too brittle for binding. Loose pages may be tipped in by our menders, but more than five pages per volume may be a problem.
- Markings and underlinings: Minor notations may not distract the user, but extensive highlighting, underlining, and commentaries can make the volume unusable because it may mislead the reader, or discourage thinking on their own. Marks in pencil can be erased. More extensive markings should be judged as damaging the text, and replacement should be considered.
- Condition of binding: Broken, torn, or worn bindings and covers can be repaired in house. Damaged items should be reviewed by the in-house mending staff for local vs. bindery decisions. If the decision to retain is based on the possibility of repair, check with mending staff first.
- Width of margin: If a volume is sent to the bindery, the inner margins will be reduced by either new sewing or gluing and trimming. Binders also trim the outer margins when rebinding. The text should be checked for sufficient margin on all pages, particularly illustration or map pages. In-house repair may reduce the inner margin but will not affect outer margins.
- Probable use: Placing a damaged item in a book box in order to protect it from further deterioration might make the book less useable, particularly in an undergraduate setting. Selectors will have to determine the value of the text vs. the severity of the damage. Severely damaged items still in print should be replaced.
- Online availability: Many older, out-of-copyright texts are available online at no cost. Newer items may be available for purchase as e-books and would allow the withdrawal of damaged print copies.
- Multiple Copies:
Normally the library will own only one copy of an item. When deciding which copy(ies) to keep, consider condition, whether one or all have gift plates, and their use. Multiples should be withdrawn unless:
- There is a heavy use pattern.
- It is a gift item. We use great care in weeding titles with gift plates and use discretion in their disposal.
- Each copy goes in a different collection (i.e., Faculty publications).
- We generally do not keep multiple editions unless there is a compelling reason to do so.
- Relevance to the Curriculum:
While the primary principle guiding our collection development will be support of the curriculum, important secondary purposes include support of faculty research and of materials that enhance the college's ability to educate the whole person. Books should be:
- Written at a level appropriate for Hope College students.
- Pertinent to issues discussed in current course offerings OR of significant interest for a specific discipline offered at Hope College OR of broad general interest OR appropriate to an existing special collection.
- Consistent with current approaches and values within a discipline OR of significant value as a "classic" in a field OR a primary source.
More recent uses of an item would lean towards keeping it. If uses seem to have been many years ago and not so much (or none) in recent years, it may be better to withdraw the item. Changes in curriculum often lead to this pattern of use.
- Additional Criteria to Consider:
- Items that are exclusively owned by the Hope College Library and not held by other MeL Libraries.
- Items containing "Do not Discard" notes.
- The dean of libraries should be consulted when weeding items with gift plates or Hope connections. Hope connections are items that are written by Hope College alumni or Hope College publications such as the Milestone. These are identified by the word Hope after the call number.
Methods of disposal depend on the type of material being considered. Those methods include:
- Offered for sale through a professional book dealer.
- Offered to the campus community.
- Disseminated through no-cost international distributors.
Print journals duplicated electronically by a stable source committed to archival access for purchasers/subscribers will be discarded at the discretion of the librarians on a title-by-title basis after they are removed from the current periodicals shelving.
(Last revised October 2020.)