Those of us who work and study at
colleges and universities know the intrinsic value of books. Perhaps,
no one values books more than librarians. The hard reality is that not
all books have lasting value. In order to build a strong library
collection, librarians must deselect books from the library.
Deselection is polite “library speak” for discarding books, journals,
and other media which are no longer of value to the library’s collection
Discarding books may not be popular with
those who love books, but it is necessary. Were the Library to keep all
the books ever acquired in its collection, the value of the collection
would be reduced. Books that are outdated and physically worn can act as
a physical and intellectual barrier to students trying to access
information. Providing students with books containing outdated and no
longer relevant information can be detrimental to their education. Who
among us wants our nursing students using books, published in 1980s, on
the standard-of-care for cardiac patients?
Woodward Library's primary mission is to
support the current study and research needs of our undergraduate and
graduate students and the faculty. It is not a research library with a
mission to collect and retain all books on all subjects. Thus,
Woodward Library strives to provide a well-balanced, pertinent, and
usable library collection, one which is designed for active use by its
students and faculty.
To that end, the Library has established
a continuous, deselection process to discard books that are no longer of
value to the collection. A librarian reviews each item for potential
deselection based upon her or his professional judgment and knowledge of
the collection and curriculum. Books are identified for deselection
using the following questions:
- Is the book no longer relevant
to the current and future APSU curriculum?
- Is the content dated and without
significant local research or historical value?
- Has the book not been used
within a reasonable time period (usually five years) depending upon
the subject and scope of the work? Exception: Books considered
classics or standard editions are retained.
- Is there a later edition(s) of
the book? Earlier editions containing unique information may be
- Is the book in poor physical
condition? Based on curricular needs replacement titles may be
- Are there multiple copies of the
book? Multiple copies are retained only when a current, proven
demand exists for multiple copies.
A strong library
collection is developed by library faculty working in concert with
classroom faculty. Just as acquiring books at APSU is a collaborative
process between librarians and departmental faculty, deselection is a
collaborative process. Faculty expertise and subject-area knowledge are
critical to the deselection process. Librarians consult with faculty
members before final deselection decisions are made. Librarians are
responsible for developing a balanced collection and for balancing
conflicting needs of the academic departments. For example, a book no
longer needed by one department may still be required in another area of
library materials, Woodward Library complies with TBR’s
Disposal of Surplus Personal Property Policy.