Document Type


Publication Date



Medical Artifacts, Medical Libraries, Rare Books, Special Collections, Weeding


Collection Development and Management


Objective: When the University of North Dakota’s Health Sciences Library moved to its new location in 2016 it transformed itself into an entirely digital library with a few exceptions. Due to shelving limitations, the library could retain only about one third of the volumes and historical medical artifacts in its special collections. Staff members were tasked with selecting the most appropriate items and moving them to their new location while complying with UND’s disposal policies for discarded and gifted materials.

Methods: Staff members reviewed titles for relevance, prominence in their field, authorship, associations with the university, region, and state of North Dakota, date of publication, condition, duplication or holdings of a similar nature, and general availability. Morton’s Medical Bibliography, a standard biographical reference on the most important contributions to the world of literature on medicine and related sciences, was consulted. Artifacts were considered for their relevance, historical interest, display potential, interest to faculty, staff, and students, and condition. Some objects required study to determine their exact nature and purpose. Calculations of available shelf space were made and measurements of selected material were taken. Items not selected for retention were made available to university faculty and staff through the UND surplus website. The donor of a significant collection was notified that the collection could not be retained in its entirety and options for disposal of non-retained items were investigated. Records in the library’s online catalog (i.e., ODIN) and OCLC were altered as necessary to reflect current holdings.

Results: The library moved to its new location in July 2016. Books and artifacts selected for retention were boxed and moved over a period of weeks. Shelving the collection and arranging artifacts was delayed due to improper shelving supports. Once these were special ordered, received, and installed, materials were removed from their boxes and arranged on shelving. Happily, the collection fit in its new location as planned.

Conclusions: The library’s downsized special collection is located in a student study area. Its presence contributes to academic scholarship and adds charm and a historical perspective to the School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Access to a number of titles contained in this collection, though rarely used, would have otherwise been lost or limited.


Presented at the 2017 NDLA Annual Conference: Libraries Transform, Grand Forks, ND, October 4-6, 2017.