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As a collection grows, it is important to monitor the resources to be sure that they continue to support the collection.  A physical inventory checks the materials that are actually in the collection against those that are suppose to be in the collection.  Missing items need to be accounted for.  

On the other hand, materials that are in the collection need to be reviewed periodically to ensure that they still represent accurate, meaningful resources to support the needs of users.  This process is called "weeding."  It serves the purpose of:

bulletRemoving outdated, damaged, or inaccurate materials.
bulletKeeping a collection relevant to the curriculum.
bulletEncouraging more effective library use by enhancing shelf space and reducing maintenance requirements.
bulletMaintaining an attractive, user-friendly collection that showcases relevant materials.
bulletMaking shelf space for new materials.

Also referred to as "de-selection," decisions about when resources have served their useful purpose should consider:

bulletLibrary/school/district goals.
bulletUser needs and demands.
bulletCooperative agreements with other libraries.
bulletMaintaining materials that are physically able to circulate and withstand normal usage.
bulletCirculation patterns and patron use.

While many librarians weed while conducting inventories, others believe an ongoing weeding process is more effective.  If a collection is broken down into areas with a section being reviewed each year, then the entire collection gets consistently reviewed over the weeding cycle.  Weeding involves the subjective, professional judgment of the library media specialist.  

When items are selected to be culled from a collection, library media specialists need to check with administrators to be sure that procedures and policies for discarded materials are followed.  In my resource section, there is a page devoted to weeding links.

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