Are you weeding eBooks from your collection?

I picked up this post about weeding eBooks from a colleague who monitors collib-l.  I asked the originator, Gary Daught, if I could post it here as well.  Please feel free to respond as Gary (and I) would love to hear your feedback.  If you prefer to email, Gary is at

Greetings. We now have well over 70,000 e-books in our holdings—a figure quickly approaching 50% of our entire book collection. A majority of these titles were purchased through our consortium as NetLibrary or other vendor collections.

This summer we began an earnest and long-overdue weeding of our print collection. We weed not only to recover/reduce shelf space but also to remove items that are dated, out-of-scope, or lacking in other desired academic qualities. It’s a lot of work as you well know. This second reason to weed got me thinking about our e-books. We don’t have to worry about shelf space with e-books. However, I can imagine that there are titles among our e-books that should also be weeded. Yes, it’s simple enough to suppress an item record from the OPAC. But how are we going to work through +70,000 titles?!

Right now I’m reading Sue Polanka’s edited No Shelf Required: E-Books in Libraries (ALA, 2011). It’s a pretty good read. But the emphasis (perhaps understandably) is on acquisition, use (including cataloging and data collection), and access preservation in various library settings. Thus far, nothing has been said (and the index is also silent) on e-book de-accessioning. Is anyone out there (or in the literature) giving any thought to managing this side of the e-book lifecycle? Have you developed a procedure that you can share?

One thought on “Are you weeding eBooks from your collection?”

  1. I find this a difficult and daunting task. I too have found no easy way of approaching this task and have found many other tasks to take my time while putting this duty on the bottom of my list.
    I considered looking into which books were checked out the most and weeding out the unused ebooks. Then I noticed that some of the least used ebooks were often books that had the most academic value.
    I am looking forward to reading other posts on this subject.

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