50 Law Libr. J. 6 (1957)
Weeding a Law Collection

handle is hein.journals/llj50 and id is 16 raw text is: Weeding a Law Collection
by ERWIN C. SURRENCY, Librarian
Temple University Law Library

One of the most persistent problems
of law library administration is that of
shelf space and arrangement of books
on the shelves. Although some libraries
will deny the existence of this prob-
lem, surveys have shown that most li-
braries have reached ninety-five per
cent or more of their total shelf ca-
pacity. Since more and more is ap-
pearing in print each year, the seri-
ousness of this problem will continue
to increase. The scholar has just so
much time to examine source ma-
terials, the result being that a great
mass of printed material will receive
little or no use. However, this is not a
problem for the individual librarian.
On the other hand, the law librarian
can do something about the many use-
less volumes occupying valuable li-
brary shelving space and should adopt
a policy for the consistent weeding of
the book collection.
A great many useless books which
could be discarded without any injury
to  scholarship  are  occupying  the
shelves of libraries. Multiple copies of
old texts and replaced volumes of the
digests are all gathering dust on some
shelves, just to mention a few species
of books which should be sold for
waste paper. Many of these items are
kept in the name of scholarship, what-
ever that term  means in twentieth-
century America, but in reality they
could be discarded without injury to

the research quality of the library.
In view of the high cost of erecting
a new building, to say nothing of
maintaining a library, a solution to
the problem of the ever-increasing
number of books must be sought by
the library profession. The mere sta-
tistics of the library's collection do not
constitute sufficient justification for
erecting a new building, unless those
statistics represent usable books, in-
cluding books which are preserved for
scholarly use. One of the duties of a
librarian should be the periodic ex-
amination of the library collection
with a view to discarding those ma-
terials which are of no further value.
Discarding materials from the li-
brary collection is an unalterable act
which may have grave consequences
for the library in the future. Many li-
brarians can tell of incidents where
their predecessors discarded the tenta-
tive drafts of the Restatement of the
Law once they were adopted in final
form on the theory that the final Re-
statement had all the materials in the
tentative drafts! Now their successors
are finding it difficult and expensive
to purchase new sets of this material,
to say nothing of the time involved in
the search. Knowledge of books is all-
important to the librarian.
When considering a weeding policy,
the future of the library should be
kept firmly in mind and a plan for its

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