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Government Documents: Information for Selective Libraries: Discard Procedures for Selective Libraries

Discard Procedures for Selective Libraries


The following discard procedures are intended to facilitate discarding unwanted U.S. depository materials by Selective depositories within the requirements as set forth in Title 44 of the U.S. Code, and the guidelines of the U.S. Government Printing Office.

Although Selective depositories must keep materials selected for the minimum five years after the date of receipt, librarians should regularly evaluate and weed their collections to keep pace with the variety and volume of materials currently available from the GPO.

Discard lists provide other libraries with an opportunity to fill in gaps in existing collections, for retrospective collection development, and to replace missing items.

However, considering the burden placed on both the Selectives in creating extensive lists, and on the Regional in trying to go through all the lists and then distributing them, a revised system reflecting changes in the requirements as discussed at the Nebraska Spring Documents Meeting of May 15, 1995 should make the procedure less onerous. These changes have been made possible through the granting of greater flexibility by the GPO for discard procedures, as discussed during the Regional meeting at the Spring 1995 Advisory Council/Conference. This new approach permits individual States to set up guidelines for discarding materials without compromising the integrity of Federal documents collections within each institution and the State, as a whole.

Using these procedures should make both aspects of the process - discarding and acquisition - simpler and easier. Suggestions and comments regarding this policy are solicited and welcome.


The following provisions for microfiche reflect the "Cornwell method" (as approved by the GPO) for handling discards of microfiche:

  • With the exception of large runs or sets of fiche (such as DOE microfiche), Selectives may discard fiche copies of materials that have been retained for at least five years after receipt, without offering them on discard lists. Libraries discarding large runs or sets must receive permission from the Regional before discarding runs or sets, with the Regional reserving the right to require Selectives to prepare discard lists for them.
  • The Regional will supply all depository libraries in the State with microfiche copies of depository documents at no charge.
  • The Regional will provide replacement copies of missing microfiche upon request at no charge.
  • The Regional will attempt to obtain copies of missing fiche for their collection in order to maintain as complete a Regional collection as is feasible.


Considering the ease of copying disks, materials issued in that format need not be listed on discard lists before disposal. However, CD-ROM products, including supporting material, must be listed as indicated below.


  • Any depository paper materials that have been received prior to January 1, 1970;
  • Any qualified depository paper materials (i.e., materials that have been retained for at least five years) that contain information regarding Nebraska, either as a subject or in a geographical context;
  • Any qualified depository paper material which is listed in the "Core Collection" list;
  • Any qualified depository paper material which was distributed in a "hard cover" format;
  • Any qualified depository CD-ROM product, including support material;
  • Any qualified depository paper serial or periodical for which there is a significant consecutive "run," such as 6 months of a monthly periodical, 4 quarterly issues, 3 consecutive annual issues, etc. These do not need to be bound volumes; and
  • Any qualified depository material, regardless of format, which the discarding library deems as "significant" and which may be of interest to other libraries in the State.


The discard list should have the name of a contact person, library name, telephone number, and postal and e-mail addresses at the top of the first page. Each page should have a list identifier and a page number at the top, along with a line for the final discard date, which will be filled in by the Regional library. Example:

John Johnson, Documents Librarian
Archer Memorial Library
Panhandle State University
Lorenzo, NE 69162

AML #89-1
Page 1 of 3
Final Discard Date: _______



The discard list should contain the SuDocs class number, cutter or series number and the title for the items listed. It will be extremely useful for all libraries to include the publication year if the item is a monograph, or the coverage year if the item is a serial (see highlighted date examples):

A 101.2:F 51

Moving firewood? Don't move Gypsy Moth egg masses! Sept. 1980.

CC 1.7:61

FCC Rules and Regulations. October 1982.

E 3.1/2:yrs.

Annual Energy Review. 1982, 1983, 1984

C 13.32:nos.

NBS Applied Mathematics Series. no. 59, 60, 61, 63, 65

C 13.44:nos.

NBS Monographs. no. 70/v.1-5, 71, 72, 73, 128/pt.1, 129



Materials listed should be arranged in SuDocs classification number order to make checking against shelf lists or shelf holdings easier.

Each discard list should NOT exceed ten pages; five pages is the most convenient size.


Selective depositories in Nebraska are to send electronically their discard lists to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The Selective libraries are encouraged to create their lists with Microsoft Word and to attach this file to an e-mail to the Documents Specialist. University of Nebraska-Lincoln staff will examine each list, identify the pieces (if any) that the Regional requests by marking each with "taken by University of Nebraska-Lincoln" written to the side of the title, and return the list to the initiating Selective to post as a web site. The Regional will distribute a letter to the Selectives within the State, indicating the URL for the list. The discarding Selective may then update the list on its web site as items are chosen off the list. For Selectives that do not have facilities to support such URLs, the Regional will manage the list and inform the Selective of the requested materials.

The Regional will indicate the final discard date on the lists, usually six weeks from the date of their posting by University of Nebraska-Lincoln staff to give adequate time for other libraries to respond. The discarding library should look for this date on the first page of the discard list.

Discarding libraries are to keep the following priorities when filling requests from libraries:

  1. University of Nebraska-Lincoln (the State Regional);
  2. Nebraska Library Commission;
  3. Selective libraries in Nebraska (first come, first served); and finally
  4. Other libraries (first come, first served).

Libraries requesting materials are to send their requests directly to the discarding library.


Any materials not requested by the final discard date may be discarded as set forth in the Title 44 and the GPO guidelines. This may only be done after the discard date.

When a Selective has submitted a list and received permission to dispose of the unrequested documents, disposal may be in any of the following ways:

  1. Submit to the GPO Needs and Offers list (you must follow their guidelines for submission. See first page of GPO Needs and Offers);
  2. Offer to public, school or college libraries which might have a use for them;
  3. Place in branches of your library, if appropriate;
  4. Use as display items; put out as "freebies" for patrons to take; use as "handouts" to classes or groups;
  5. Offer to businesses, private companies, or individuals who might have a use for them;
  6. If depository documents are sold as second-hand books or as wastepaper for recycling, the money gained from the sale must be sent to the Superintendent of Documents with a letter of explanation (see Section C of Chapter 4: Maintenance in the Instructions to Depository Libraries Instructions); and/or
  7. They may be thrown away.

Postage is the responsibility of the discarding Selective. The Regional does not reimburse postage.

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