The Weeding Handbook: A Shelf-by-Shelf Guide, Second Edition

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Filled with field-tested strategies and adaptable collection development policies, this updated handbook will enable libraries to bloom by maintaining a collection that users actually use.

"Manages to be a thorough and informative source on weeding library collections and yet also an easy, engaging read ... Recommended." That rave review from Technicalities sums up the acclaim and appeal of this bestselling resource’s first edition. Now Vnuk has revised and updated her text to keep pace with libraries’ longer-term shifts in collection development and access, such as a growing emphasis on digital collections and managing duplicate physical materials. She demonstrates how weeding helps a library thrive by focusing its resources on those parts of the collection that are the most useful to its users. Walking collections staff through the proverbial stacks shelf by shelf, this book

  • includes a new “Tales from the Front” feature, providing real-life case studies of librarians working on weeding projects;
  • explains why weeding is important for a healthy library and how it can positively affect library budgets;
  • systematically walks readers through a library's shelves, with recommended weeding criteria and call-outs in each area for the different considerations of large collections and smaller collections;
  • offers easily adaptable, updated sample development plans which reflect the latest thinking in collection development;
  • advises readers on weeding problematic materials, such as those that include racist themes and depictions;
  • presents updated and expanded guidance on special considerations for youth collections;
  • addresses reference, media, magazines and newspapers, e-books, and other special materials;
  • shares guidance for determining how to delegate responsibility for weeding, plus pointers for getting other staff members on board; and
  • gives advice for educating the community about the process, how to head off PR disasters, and what to do with weeded materials.

Examination copies are available for instructors who are interested in adopting this title for course use. 


Chapter 1    The Basics
Chapter 2    Shelf by Shelf: 000, 100, 200
Chapter 3    Shelf by Shelf: 300s
Chapter 4    Shelf by Shelf: 400s and 500s
Chapter 5    Shelf by Shelf: 600s
Chapter 6    Shelf by Shelf: 700s
Chapter 7    Shelf by Shelf: 800s and Fiction
Chapter 8    Shelf by Shelf: 900s and Biography
Chapter 9    Other Areas of the Collection
Chapter 10    Special Considerations for Youth Collections
Chapter 11    Weeding Gone Wrong
Chapter 12    Diversity and Inclusion
Chapter 13    The Importance of a Collection Development Plan

Suggested Reading
Appendix: Annotated Sample Collection Development Plans

Rebecca Vnuk

Rebecca Vnuk has a high profile in the library community as a librarian, consultant, workshop presenter, speaker, writer, and blogger. She is the executive director for LibraryReads, a nonprofit dedicated to adult books and readers’ advisory education. Rebecca has held a variety of positions in public libraries, including experience in collection development, department management, and readers’ advisory. From 2011 to 2018 she was the editor for collection management and library outreach at Booklist magazine. She was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2010 and was the 2010 PLA Allie Beth Martin Award winner for distinguished readers’ advisory service. She holds an MLIS from Dominican University. You can find out more about her at

"The more I read of the interviews in the new edition, the more I was convinced that including them was a very smart choice. As with the first edition, Vnuk’s original material is still informative and easy to read, well-researched, and presented in a scholarly yet engaging voice. However, by including other librarians’ words and voices, she is able to introduce ideas without requiring a lengthy setup. I enjoyed the exposure to a range of experiences and to different ways of seeing and talking about the work ... [This book] remains informative, engaging, and an excellent resource."
— Technicalities

"The newly included interviews provide humor and real-life solutions to likely challenges ... Public librarians new to this activity will especially appreciate this work."
— Choice

"There is practical and much sought after advice on how to word discussions with the general public, and especially dealing with their challenges. This is a practical tool for the experienced librarian. It provides support that we know what we know and can act as a checklist or refresher when managing different sections of the library collection. It is equally useful for small libraries and large, and for all types of libraries. The text would be valued by library students with a particularly useful appendix featuring eight sample Collection Development Plans."
— Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association

"The book is written in a comprehensible style that is engaging, entertaining, and informative. Vnuk shares weeding experiences that include success stories, humorous weeding fails, and how to handle various situations that arise during weeding. One of the gems of this book is the support and reassurance the author offers throughout the text. Vnuk acknowledges the hesitations that library staff may have in different scenarios of weeding and suggests applicable strategies for working through these hesitations that will result in reassurance for library staff as they make decisions regarding weeding. Throughout the text the author also provides public relations strategies for educating library staff, patrons, and the public about weeding efforts, to avoid misunderstandings about the weeding process."
— Journal of Education for Library & Information Science

Praise for the first edition

"Vnuk's tone is casual and readable with a wealth of references to other resources for further information. Her emphasis on the importance of a collection development policy to guide efforts like weeding is also a welcome one."
— Catholic Library World

"Manages to be a thorough and informative source on weeding library collections and yet also an easy, engaging read ... those of us in the intended audience of academic, school, or especially public libraries will be well served. Recommended."
— Technicalities

"I realized an important (and probably quite obvious) parallel between botanical weeding and book weeding – both tasks require knowledge of your subject. As much as you may want to just start hacking away at the endless root base of a dandelion among your prize roses, you need to know what you're dealing with first. And so it goes with books. You need to know your collection, what you want to do with it and the best course of action to take to get there. Rebecca Vnuk gives experienced insight into this often misunderstood and sometimes ill-conceived task ... A lovely, lightweight and well-organized reference book."
— Reference Reviews

"I found this book to be very practical and plan to go back through it to incorporate some of the excellent suggestions Vnuk has included ... this work's shelf-by-shelf approach and inclusion of sample policies and methods make it a welcome update and addition to the literature."
— Against The Grain