Weeding is an essential part of maintaining a relevant book collection for everyone.  If we want to continue to make room for new materials then we’ve got to make some room. Libraries are not archives and so we cannot preserve everything; we collect information and provide access to it and whilst we love books as much as anyone, tough decisions have to be made.

What is weeding?

The term weeding refers to any library’s ongoing efforts to keep their collection fresh by removing books that are collecting dust instead of being issued to their community.

Why do we take books out of your library?

Over time, some books that were once in high demand and regularly issued may stop circulating and start collecting dust. Other books become overly worn through regular use and need to be replaced. In both cases, it is the role of the librarians to remove them from our collection and replace them with books our readers want.

Where do weeded books go?

At Richmond our weeded books go to Better World Books, who will sell, donate or recycle them. Material is sold on BetterWorldBooks.co.uk and across other online marketplaces. For every book sold by Better World Books, funds are raised to support libraries and literacy. Additionally, for every book sold on BetterWorldBooks.co.uk, a book is donated to an organisation in need. Those books that are in such poor condition they cannot go to Better World Books are recycled by the library service.

How do we choose which books to remove from the collection?

• Misleading: Some older books may have factual inaccuracies.
• Bad condition: Wear and tear take their toll and perennial classics need to be replaced after being too well loved.
• Newer edition: Sometimes updates in a new edition of a book renders an older edition undesirable or obsolete.
• Irrelevant: Our readers simply aren’t interested in reading everything. Why keep it if nobody wants to borrow it?
• Easily found elsewhere: Keeping a copy of certain materials at the local library seems redundant if for example accurate information can be found online as well.


Why not just hold a book sale?

We send books directly to Better World Books because:
• We would prefer our libraries to concentrate on loaning books and generating issues, which is our reason for existing.
• Books that haven’t been popular in circulation (for free!) are unlikely to sell within the same community. Better World Books expose them to a wider audience that is more likely to want them.
• With limited staff hours, it’s costly for libraries to spend the time and money organising sales, and volunteers are not always available. We would rather use that time to enhance our collection and plan other things.
• Storage of the material prior to the sale is a challenge. Proper storage and working space is often unavailable.

So whilst it might seem odd for us to discard books, we hope you can see why like any good library service, it’s essential we throw books away, or more accurately give them a new home.

[Rosie, Librarian]