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Deselection Projects

University Libraries strives to manage the collections to best meet the needs of campus, including deselecting items that meet specific criteria.

Introduction to Deselection Projects

General Statement

A library’s collections may appear to be static, but they are constantly evolving. To insure an active, academically useful collection, materials are regularly evaluated for possible withdrawal and cancellation. The process of deselection, often referred to as weeding or the withdrawing of materials, is an integral part of collection management in an academic library. Just as a library carefully and thoughtfully selects materials to add to its collection, the same approach must also be used when withdrawing them to maximize the collection’s usefulness. The decision to periodically deselect materials to ensure that the collection remains viable and continues to support the curricular, instructional, research, and programmatic needs of University of Northern Colorado students, faculty, and staff.


Maintaining a high-quality and useful collection is the responsibility of the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) Libraries. Associated with that responsibility is supporting the curricular, instructional, research, and programming needs of the UNC students, faculty, and staff. As well as keeping our collection relevant for our community and its changing information needs.
In addition to withdrawing materials that are no longer relevant to the university’s academic needs, the UNC Libraries also deselect materials to allow for the ongoing review and growth of the collection to reflect current and more relevant content. Resources that go unused for extended periods of time are costly to store and preserve and distract users from more relevant resources. Users are better able to find materials related to their information needs in a well-maintained and uncluttered collection.

Another important rationale for deselection is to maximize the library’s space for student use. Deselection creates space for other library services such as computer and printer access, programming space, and individual and group study areas.


Library materials of all types (which include, but are not limited to books, journals and serials, microforms, maps, and electronic resources) may be candidates for deselection.  Criteria may differ according to subject (e.g., date of publication may be relevant in sciences but not in humanities) or the collection. Rather than have a retention/deselection policy that is uniform for the entire library, below are some uniform criteria that is taken into consideration during the deselection of any library material.

-Completeness: Does the library have all the material necessary to make a complete series or are some materials missing?

-Currency/Relevance:  Generally speaking, is an item’s content out of date or no longer accurate/relevant in its respective field? Some materials in the health science field, for example, may become outdated at a faster rate than materials in other disciplines such as literature or philosophy.

-Duplicates: Does more than one copy of a title exist within the Michener Library’s collection? Are multiple copies of a given title beneficial or necessary?  Consideration will be taken of the general need to have more than one copy of a title on hand, especially for materials that are heavily used or are a part of a university-wide program.

-Edition: Are there materials that are superseded by newer, revised, or updated editions?

-Format: Is the material reliably available electronically? Is the item redundant across formats? If there is an electronic copy, is it permanent part of the Michener Library’s collection?

-Language: Does the material support the university’s current foreign-language programs? Does the material support the needs of the university’s community?

-Physical Condition: Is the item badly deteriorated or damaged and beyond reasonable preservation efforts?

-Uniqueness: Does the University Libraries own the only copy of an item, or is it one of several libraries that owns the item (i.e. regionally, among our consortium partners or nationally)? It there something about the material that makes it unique to UNC (i.e. inscriptions, gift agreements, etc.)?

-Usage: When was the last time an item circulated or was checked-out? Was it used by faculty, staff, students or lent out via ILL? Library staff may consult circulation statistics or other reports to determine viable candidates for withdrawal.

Withdrawn Materials

Materials approved to be withdrawn from the collection will be physically removed from the building and records for these items will be removed from the UNC Libraries Catalog. Designated library staff will determine the appropriate means of recycling or disposal for each withdrawn item.

Procedure Review

At the conclusion of this project, the deselection procedure will be reviewed and updated as needed.