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Centralized De-selection, the Weeding Team

San Jose Public Library

Problem Statement

At SJPL’s eighteen branches, our collection emphasis is on current, appealing, popular materials. Properly weeding such up-to-date collections is a critical and time-sensitive task, yet it’s hard for our busy librarians to find time to do it. Weeding is often put off by Librarians in order to fulfill the daily customer service duties of busy branches. This task, whether loved or hated, is necessary to maintain current, relevant and vibrant collections.


SJPL’s Technical Services Leadership Team developed the idea of Centralized De-selection from a proposal brought up in a staff meeting. The thought that Central Selectors would have a system perspective that allows them to manage collections from selection through de-selection gave rise to the Weeding Team. This Team is consisted of Technical Services staff and central selectors who are knowledgeable about specific collections that work at each of SJPL’s 18 branches. A pull list is generated based on circulation in the subject areas specified by the central selectors. This process doesn’t exclude branch participation. Regularly, the branches do their collection maintenance by de-selecting materials based on condition and currency. Before the Weeding Team arrives, the branches shelf-read in targeted collections to streamline the process.


Although the Librarians at all branches and locations play an active and continuous role in collection management, the Weeding Team has reduced the task of de-selection on a branch level. This frees up physical space to better utilize and display collections and gives staff time to focus on customer service. An intended outcome is to centrally provide our customers with living collections that meet their needs. The Team has visited 5 of 18 branches so far and has learned from each visit what will make the next one better.