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Deselection of Library Books

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 Books that are outdated and physically worn can act as a physical and intellectual barrier to students trying to access information. Providing students with books containing outdated and no longer relevant information can be detrimental to their education.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 retained.
  • Is the book in poor physical condition?  Based on curricular needs replacement titles may be ordered.
  • 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 the curriculum.

When disposing library materials, Woodward Library complies with TBR's Disposal of Surplus Personal Property Policy.