Deaccessioning and Withdrawal of the General Collection

Updated: October 2023

The deaccession and withdrawal process is an important part of collection management at the Florida State University Libraries. The regular withdrawal of damaged, outdated, out-of-scope, or duplicate materials helps the Libraries maintain relevant and easily accessible collections. These guidelines primarily affect materials in the general collections of the FSU Libraries, as materials in other collections, such as Government Documents, Special Collections & Archives, Law, and Music may have additional considerations.  

Periodic deaccessioning of materials from the collection is managed by the subject librarians who have responsibility for managing the collections in their assigned disciplines and for working directly with academic departments to support their research and teaching needs. The library may withdraw, in accordance with its policies and relevant Asset Management guidelines, materials in any format: monographs, periodicals, series, films, etc.  Access to alternative formats, available copies within participating consortia, regional retention agreements, knowledge of library constituents, and the expertise of subject specialists are all considered when making withdrawal decisions.

Large-scale relocation or withdrawal projects may be considered for space reclamation or collection enhancement.   Recommendations for such projects will be submitted to the Associate Dean for Resource Management & Discovery Services, who will consult with the Collection Strategies & Services Committee to review the proposed project(s) and determine the best path for the broadest and most inclusive input possible.  Final decision-making authority rests with the Associate Dean for Resource Management & Discovery Services , who will make appropriate actions in consultation with the Faculty Senate Library Committee and the Dean of Libraries. 

When making deaccession decisions, the following criteria will be considered:

1. Relevance

  • Materials that are irrelevant or out-of-scope to current curricular and research interests of the university may be considered for withdrawal.
  • Materials with research or readership levels inappropriate to a research university will be considered for withdrawal.

2. Currency

  • Materials that are superseded by newer, revised, or updated editions may be considered for withdrawal. 
  • Materials that do not represent current legal or medical practice may be considered for withdrawal. Colleagues at the College of Medicine and College of Law Libraries will be consulted on such removals.
  • The library takes into consideration the retention of outdated historical texts that may be used for historical scholarship in active research programs at FSU, areas such as in the humanities and physics. Discipline specific material that is dated or does not represent current practice will be considered for withdrawal if it does not contain historically relevant material for the library’s collection

3. Duplication

  • In general, a single copy of an item will be retained in the circulating collection; multiple copies will be considered for withdrawal. Exceptions can be made for heavily-used items.
  • Electronic publications are preferred when the content is equivalent to print. The print duplicates of electronic content may be considered for withdrawal. Exceptions will be made for print items that are considered rare, valuable, or image-intensive.
  • Electronic content that is available with permanent archival rights is preferred over annual subscription access.
  • In a few cases, key resources may be duplicated in the collections at other FSU Libraries locations, but in general, highly specialized materials available at one campus library will not be duplicated in other collections.
  • Evaluation of microform materials will be included when duplicate formats of the same content exist.

4. Usage

  • Electronic usage or print circulation statistics may be considered when making withdrawal decisions.
  • Usage statistics alone are not a legitimate measure for retention or deaccession; however, they may be considered to provide additional context.

5. Format Obsolescence

  • Materials in obsolete formats may be considered for withdrawal if content is available elsewhere or in other formats, or if there is not obsolete equipment to view the content.

6. Physical Condition

  • Print items that are beyond reasonable repair can be considered for withdrawal. Consideration for replacement will be made on a case-by-case basis.
  • If an item is in poor condition, and the FSU Libraries have made a retention commitment on that item, then a replacement copy must be purchased if a replacement is available and affordable.

7. Completeness

  • Materials that are part of a multi-volume set of which the library does not have all volumes may be considered for withdrawal.
  • Multi-volume sets under consideration for withdrawal receive additional scrutiny to ensure, for example, that all volumes are available through consortia or alternative formats, or that the set is not of special value as a cultural artifact, research tool, or primary source collection.

8. Government Documents

  • When a decision is made to withdraw a federal document, the FSU Libraries will adhere to the proper withdrawal dispositions process.  Additional information on Government Document withdrawal procedures is available in the document Weeding a Depository Collection.

9. Diversity and Inclusion

  • Librarians consider the FSU Libraries commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in our collections when making deaccession decisions.
  • Librarians are cautious about making deaccession decisions based solely on metrics like circulation or usage when such transactional data may reflect the biases present in higher education rather than the value of individual materials or of maintaining a diverse collection.
  • Librarians strive to maintain collections that represent a wide range of topics, ideas, and authorial perspectives. At the same time, we acknowledge that collection development strategies and cataloging practices within academic research institutions have long excluded and diminished the discoverability of Black, Indigenous, and People Of Color voices and scholars. Thoughtful deaccessioning or relocation of materials with racist, sexist, or ethnocentric biases may be used not to censor outdated or offensive perspectives, but to make room for more representative and current materials and create the balance of resources that will be most relevant and useful to the libraries’ constituents.

Retention agreements

When making deaccession decisions, the FSU Libraries take into consideration the retention agreements made by academic libraries in participating consortia, as well as the reciprocal commitments that FSU made to retain other items. We recognize that it is unrealistic for every library to collect everything, and therefore, we share a responsibility with other academic libraries to responsibly manage our collective holdings.

FSU Libraries are a member of the Eastern Academic Scholars' Trust (EAST), which is a shared print initiative involving 79 academic and research libraries in 13 states from Maine to Florida.  EAST is focused on retaining unique, scarcely held, and frequently used scholarly monographs and serials in support of scholarship, research, and teaching.  EAST member libraries commit to retain agreed upon titles in their local collections for a minimum of 15 years and make those titles available to other EAST members. Partner libraries have committed to retaining over 6 million scholarly monographs.

In addition, FSU Libraries are a member of Scholars Trust. Scholars Trust represents the shared print archives of the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL), the Florida Academic Repository (FLARE), and the Washington Research Library Consortium (WRLC).  As a member of ASERL, Florida State University is one of 50 participating libraries in the Scholars Trust retention program.  Participating libraries commit to retain agreed upon titles in their local collections and provide reciprocal priority for Interlibrary Loan services. Together, over 8,000 print journal titles have been committed for retention.