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Collection Development Handbook: De-Selection

RCL and Tributes books


RCL (Resources for College Libraries) stamped on the top of the pages indicates a book that the Choice review service designated as an "Outstanding Academic Title"(OAT).  However, some of these books can become outdated just like any other. The deselection rubrics and procedures used for other books in the subject area apply to these books as well. 

You may want to check for a new edition or a new OAT title that is similar.

When ordering an OAT title, please make a note on the order that this is a RCL title.


These books have a bookplate in the front showing that they were given in honor or memory of someone. If you are deselecting one of these titles, you should replace it with a similar work that fits the current collection. 

Indicate on your order that this is a TRIB replacement so that Cataloguing will know it needs a bookplate.

Library Tributes web page

Approved by MZ, 05/18/12


E-books are no different than their print counterparts in becoming outdated and needing to be updated or removed.

Unfortunately, at present there is no way to weed e-books.  This is a problem that must be addressed in the next few years.

Deselection options: "the 4 Rs"

What can you do with a book that you decide to remove from the collection? Use your deselection rubrics to help you select one of these options:

  • Replace -- If the book has lasting value for the subject area, order a replacement copy.  Ordering books    Ordering out of print
  • Repair -- If the text block is in good condition, you can put it to the "book hospital" mail box in Technical Servcies.
  • Rebind -- If the text block is in good condition but the cover is detached, torn, dirty, etc., ask Nicole? to send it to be rebound. It costs about $10 to rebind.
  • Remove -- If the book is not necessary for the collection, place it on the Withdraw shelf in Technical Services.

Deselection Rubrics

Every collection policy should include rubrics that define the criteria for retention and deselection in the subject area.  Obvioulsy, criteria will differ from subjecct to subject, depending on the significance of publication date and other factors, so we can't all use the same ones.

  1. create your rubrics based on what you know now.
  2. test your rubrics every time you are deselecting books 
  3. modify as needed; keep the rubrics up to date as changes occur in the discipline/curriculum

Brittle Books

What is a brittle book?

  • ARL estimates 25-33% of general collections in major libraries are brittle.
  • Books published from the 1830s through the 1980s in industrialized couyntries are suspect.
  • Brittle=acidic=breakdown of the cellulose molecule in the paper
  • Inherent problem in ground wood papers due to the way in which paper was produced in industrialized countries during the timeframe above
  • Besides books, present in all papers used for printing: stationery, albums, maps, music, newspapers, serials, ephemera, art on paper (selectively), archival records
  • Look for yellow or brown discoloration, worse at the edges of the page
  • Loss of paper flexibility -- stiff, dry, breaks when bent
  • May smell like acid or vinegar (offgassing); these gases can irritate the lungs, especially in people with allergies or respiratory problems.
  • Even good paper (linen or rag) can become brittle due to the introduction of corrosive byproducts in manufacture, such as iron, gall ink, copper pigment (in color green used in old maps),steel plate printing
  • Acidity can spread if brittle paper comes into contact with non-brittle paper.
  • Foxing and staining do not necessarily indicate paper is brittle (check for other characteristics listed above.)

 What can we do with a brittle book?

  • Brittleness cannot be remedied except at great cost, and possibly not at all.  Brittle items are done for!
  • You can order a replacement, which is a good idea only if the replacement is on better paper.
  • Maybe you can find an electronic edition.
  • In the future, a really worthwhile item that cannot be replaced either physically or electronically could be digitalized and put into our institutional repository, provided it is still physically able to be scanned. (This would be done only for truly valuable research items).
  • Pehaps it could be photocopied onto acid-free paper and bound.  Is the item really worth all that time, trouble and expense?
  • Weeding brittle books is really a good idea!
    Submitted by Martha Zimmerman

Fun videos about book condition