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Deselection and Transfer Policy


Subject specialists make decisions regarding deselection, transfers, and weeding in consultation with the leadership of the Department of Collection Development Strategies.

Discards are regulated by state law, which governs disposal of public property. Generally, the Libraries cannot give withdrawn material to faculty or other persons or sell at book sales. 

Decisions for retention and deselection of library materials follow the guidelines from the American Library Association and from the existing similar policies within the UMD Libraries’ partnerships and collaborations. Major partners include the HathiTrust, the Center for Research Libraries (CRL), and the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA).


Maintaining the quality and usefulness of the collections is a central goal and responsibility of the Libraries. Associated with that responsibility is decision-making regarding which materials are accurate, current, and/or relevant, and which should be retained or deselected. The deselection of unwanted physical items and the storage of infrequently used items will relieve overcrowded shelves, increase ease of access and improve the efficiency of retrieving materials.

Production and use of electronic materials (e.g. ebooks, audio, and video materials) is a rapidly growing and continually evolving field. Similarly to all tangible materials, electronic collections need to follow similar guidelines for retention and selection in order to keep the collection relevant. The deselection of electronic materials will improve retrieval and increase discoverability of relevant materials.

Guidelines for Retention and Deselection

The re-alignment of library collections encompasses both active collections and collections in off-site storage. The re-alignment of the primary active collections may involve both deselection  (i.e., permanent removal of items from the library) and transfer of items to Severn Library, the Libraries’ off-site storage facility.

In addition, Severn Library may need to be weeded. Active collections and storage facilities may have different weeding policy criteria.

Deselection criteria will likely differ according to subject (e.g., date of publication may be relevant in sciences but not in humanities) or the collection. Furthermore, it may not be necessary to deselect all subject areas at the same frequency. Rather than have a retention/deselection policy that is uniform for the entire library, below are some uniform criteria from which subject specialists can choose and prioritize according to the needs of their respective subjects and collections.

Criteria for Retention/Transfer and Deselection

As a general guideline, materials matching any of the following criteria may be removed from the collection:

M = Misleading and/or factually inaccurate, unless historically or culturally important
U = Ugly (worn and beyond mending)
S = Superseded by a new edition or by a superior book on the subject
T = Trivial, or of no discernible literary or scientific merit
I = Irrelevant to the needs and interests of the community
E = Elsewhere available

CREW: A Weeding Manual for Modern Libraries can be used for additional guidelines.

The following suggested criteria apply to all general collection monographs, serials and audio-visual media and electronic materials.

Criteria for Candidates for Deselection

  1. Lack of circulation – Item has low usage within a given time frame, depending on subject discipline. For example, for some subject disciplines the length of time since the book was last checked out can be taken into consideration.
  2. Low in-house use, depending on subject discipline or collection.
  3. Duplication – May include duplication by other formats and editions. Multiple copies of monographs are kept only where there is a high demand for teaching/learning or titles are authored by UMD faculty.
  4. Superseded by more recent editions – The newer editions must incorporate important information from earlier editions.
  5. Availability – when electronic access is available, the UMD Libraries should attempt to negotiate perpetual access and the best possible provisions for Interlibrary loan.
  6. Multivolume sets of books – orphan volumes of multivolume sets which can’t hold their own as single volumes and/or are available at other library branches.
  7. Textbooks (see Textbook purchases policy) – Textbooks are generally not to be included in the collection.
  8. Date of publication – For example, materials lacking historical or other research value or ephemeral materials that are not easily accessed or bound. No materials dated pre-1850 should be deselected without review and approval by rare book or special collection curators.
  9. Accuracy of content – For example, materials containing inaccurate data or facts or outdated materials within a specific subject discipline.
  10. Physical condition – For example, poor physical condition, or damaged beyond usefulness; poor bound volumes; or obsolete physical format.
  11. Missing or Lost – Materials’ records should not be suppressed from public view until such time that the materials are replaced or deemed unworthy of replacement by Library staff. At that point, records for these materials that have been replaced or deselected should be suppressed.
  12. Change or elimination of an academic program.
  13. Critics’ reviews of book.
  14. Travel books, juvenile literature, cookbooks, how to books, unless representing a specific interest within a subject and item selected by the subject specialist.

Criteria for Retention

The decision to retain an item rests solely with the subject specialists.

  1. Last or single copies – Titles are retained if not available at collaborating libraries unless appropriate consortial agreements are in place to ensure materials’ preservation and availability.
  2. Appropriate monograph level (undergraduate, graduate, professional, non-academic).

Transfer Criteria for Candidates for Transfer to Off-Site Repository

  1. Low circulation – Item has low usage within a given time frame but might have some other reasons for keeping the item in storage such as better environmental conditions, historical value, etc.
  2. Move all bound serials before a specific date (has advantage of relatively few bibliographic record changes).
  3. Date of publication of all formats (not just serials).
  4. Additional copies of titles which continue to be in demand for use as replacements.
  5. Titles which are significant in a subject area but general use does not warrant them absorbing limited open shelf space.
  6. Value (items that are rare, valuable, have a possibility of being mutilated or stolen, or are appropriate for special collections).
  7. Needs special protection (e.g., will have less handling or possibly be in storage facility with improved environmental conditions).

Authorizations for Deselection and Transfer to Off-site Repository

In consultation with the subject specialist, the process to withdraw materials may be initiated by any library employee. However the ultimate decision for deselection and transfer of materials to off-site repository rests with the subject specialist, the curator in charge of a special collection, the head of a branch library or the UMD Libraries’ Collection Strategies and Services Unit.

Responsibility for deselection and transfer is shared by the subject specialists and the library staff.

Subject specialists are responsible for deselection and transfer of materials (both circulating and non-circulating) in their areas of expertise. Materials to be deselected or transferred are sent to the corresponding library employee in charge of these procedures within each library.

A library staff  member is responsible for removing on a regular basis for consideration by the subject specialist:

  • Shabby, outdated materials.
  • Duplicates and other copies of the title.
  • Multiple editions.
  • Superfluous materials.
  • Specific date sensitive areas (e.g. business, law, medicine, etc.)

Revised 5/21/2015; Reviewed and approved by CDC 6/23/15; Reviewed and approved by CDC 5/2/2017