UW Libraries Deaccessioning - FAQ

What is deaccessioning?

Deaccessioning is the process of removing resources, typically physical items, from the Libraries’ collection.

Why are we deaccessioning?

Like many large research libraries, the UW Libraries has been deaccessioning regularly over the years.  We are running out of space to preserve and provide access to a growing collection. This need was highlighted in the 2017 Strategic Space Plan study commissioned by the Libraries and has only grown more urgent in the years since the Plan was completed. Many of the libraries on the Seattle campus and some branch library locations are  at or near 100% shelving capacity.

What are we deaccessioning?

Materials fall largely into three categories:

  • Print serial de-duplication – withdrawal of print runs of journals where we have purchased perpetual access to the online version or have agreements with other libraries to borrow the print copy if needed.

  • Print book de-duplication – withdrawal of duplicate copies of the same edition.

  • Print book weeding – withdrawal of individual monographs that are widely available from our partner libraries in the Summit consortium or through interlibrary loan (ILL).

What are our criteria for weeding?

Duplicate materials are identified first because we can easily share among the three UW campuses. Next, low use and highly available materials in Summit and our network of ILL partners are identified as potential weeding candidates. In practice we use the following criteria to identify “high availability”:

  • Item held by three (3) or more libraries in Summit (not including the UW); AND

  • Item held by 40 or more libraries in the United States (not including the UW).

These criteria provide assurance that there are sufficient copies for access and preservation across our partner libraries in the Pacific Northwest and the rest of the country. All deaccessioning work is done with great care and consideration and aligns with our Collection Development Guiding Principles and the UW Libraries Mission and ValuesSubject Librarians are involved throughout the weeding process and have final review of decisions.

What is the timeline for deaccessioning?

Deaccessioning, or “weeding”, is a standard practice among academic libraries of all sizes, including large academic libraries like UW. It is a necessary and on-going process to ensure space for the approximately 35,000 new print books we add to the collection every year. The number of deaccessioned materials varies from year to year.

What’s happening with the withdrawn materials?

Materials withdrawn from the collection may be donated to other institutions, sold, recycled, discarded, or otherwise disposed of.

In order to  ensure the preservation of select materials across the region and the country, we maintain our commitment to support shared print archiving initiatives, such as WEST (Western Regional Storage Trust).

Who can I contact to provide input or ask additional questions?

Contact your Subject Librarian or email Sustainable Scholarship.

When will additional storage space for collections be available?

Throughout the last decade, UW Libraries has been a consistent and vocal advocate for funding to increase essential storage capacity. A modern shelving facility with environmental controls optimized for preservation is a critical need for the collections.  UW Libraries submitted a Fiscal Year 25 Capital Budget Project for Off-site Storage and Student Space Needs, the first step toward developing a Business Case for inclusion in the UW Legislative Agenda. If funded and built, the path from proposal to implementation is long; a new facility would not be operational until 2029 at the earliest.

Additional questions:

  • Is UW Libraries deaccessioning materials that are uniquely held by UW Libraries alone?

    • No.

  • Will access be lost to core curricular teaching materials that are deaccessioned?

    • No.

    • Items that are unique, rare, and not accessible via alternative access will not be deaccessioned.

    • The Libraries will continue to acquire unique and rare material through gifts and purchases, especially in Special Collections and International Studies.

  • Will UW users still have access to all deaccessioned materials through alternative means?

    • Yes, these materials are available through shared print programs, or from our regional, national, and international library partners around the world via ILL.

  • Will it take a lot of time to access these materials via these alternatives?

    • No.
    • Interlibrary Loan (ILL) & Scanning Services is incredibly efficient. Articles are typically delievered within a few hours, but may take up to two business days.
    • Print books that are unavailable or are not owned by the UW Libraries can be requested through Summit (typically arrive in 3-5 business days) or ILL (typically arrive in 2-3 weeks).
  • What other strategies is the UW Libraries using to address the lack of space?

    • The Libraries has increased purchasing of e-books both for enhanced access for users and to relieve the space pressure for new material. Users of the UW Libraries now have access to over 1.8 million e-books.

    • The Libraries has also purchased online backfiles of journals for enhanced access for users and to de-duplicate print runs of the journals.

Collection and Deaccessioning Data

Total monographs in Seattle campus libraries (not including the Gallagher Law Library): Approximately 4.5 million

Acquisitions Items Added
Monographs added 42,970



Items Withdrawn




Print serial de-duplication









* This does not include approximately 32,000 items identified for withdrawal in the summer/fall of 2022 but not yet withdrawn from the collection.