May 24, 2022

The Big Weed: Boston Public Library Weeding Up to 180,000 Books From Print Collection

From The Boston Globe:

The library, in Roxbury, once brimmed with books. But officials have been steadily culling its collection the past few months as part of a push by BPL administrators to dispose of up to 180,000 little-used volumes from shelves and archives of branches citywide by year’s end. Library officials say the reductions help assure that patrons can comfortably sift through a modern selection that serves their needs.

The Dudley branch stands to lose up to 40 percent of its inventory, according to an internal memo acquired by the Globe. The branches at Egleston Square and Uphams Corner could lose 30 and 28 percent of their collections, respectively.


“I can’t begin to imagine what their thinking is in this wholesale removal of books,” said Jane Matheson, a member of Friends of Fields Corner Branch Library in Dorchester, which is being asked to cull up to 25 percent of its collection. “If you want books you’ve got to go look for them. . . . A whole lot of poor people are not running around with an iPad in one hand.”


“It’s a changing landscape in terms of libraries,” said Amy Ryan, president of the Boston Public Library. “This is just a transition time as we’re getting the collection to the right size.”

Ryan acknowledged that more than a hundred thousand books may eventually be removed, but said some items filed for removal may be missing or duplicates. The library system continues to add 132,000 volumes to its overall collection each year, she said.

Read the Complete Article (928 Words)

UPDATE: In this new Boston Public Library “Compass” blog post you can read what the library has to say about their collection policies including info about weeding and what actually happens when books are removed from their collection. The post also includes a link to the complete BPL collection development policy.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.