Spring 2012

The Trustee communicates issues affecting libraries and library services. Once a library and systems join LTA, all their trustees automatically receive this quarterly publication published by LTA. To learn more about membership in LTA, Click Here.

Policy Spotlight

By Tim Gavin

Spring 2012 issue of Trustee

Collection Development and Weeding

"After 244 years, Encyclopedia Britannica will cease production of its iconic multi-volume book sets. Britannica usually prints a new set of the tomes every two years, but 2010's 32-volume set will be its last." 1

Librarians are used to having to deal with change, and many have probably been gradually preparing for this particular one.  Resources change.  They get revised,
updated, and re-formatted. So, while this particular news may be a striking marker of just how digital our society has become, for your library it is all just a normal part of the everyday process of collection development. 

Yet librarians, trustees, friends, and patrons love books - and this encyclopedia collection, for many, has been a staple of the reference section ever since they received their first library card.  And not everyone is comfortable using digital resources.

So . . . if your library has the 2010 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica on its shelves, how long should it stay there?  What if your library still has the 2008 edition?  How long until the material is outdated to the point that it becomes more of an information liability than a useful resource?

Most libraries have a well-defined collection development policy - when it comes to acquisitions. When it comes to "weeding," however, the details are not always as clearly laid- out. 

What is your library's weeding policy? What procedure does your library follow when it comes to removing materials from the collection?  If a patron sees the 2010 Encyclopedia Britannica for sale at your library's book sale, and knows that there is no print replacement, what do you say?

Many patrons do not understand why a library would ever discard a book. Having a weeding policy and procedure that can be shared with your library community can be an effective communication tool. It can help make the weeding process more transparent and understandable.         

Do you need help developing a weeding policy?  If so, LTA's policy database is searchable by category.  Select, "Collection Development and Weeding" in the policy category field, and see examples shared by your peers throughout the state.

1 Pepitone, Julianne. (2012, March 13).  Encyclopedia Britannica to stop printing books. Retrieved March, 16, 2012, from

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