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"Library after library has sacrificed reader accommodation to the imperatives of shelving. The crowding out of readers by reading material is one of the most common and disturbing ironies in library space planning."

Scott Bennett, Libraries Designed For Learning, CLIR, 2003

Rick's Blog

Why Now?  The Case for Deselection

At a time when print use is declining, there is an opportunity to free space and resources by intelligently drawing down print monograph collections. The availability of data and services to support rules-based deselection now makes it easy to pursue this opportunity

More and more books remain unused

  • In 2011, OhioLINK determined that 6% of its 30 million books accounted for 80% of circulation.
  • In 2010, Cornell University reported that 55% of its books acquired since 1990 had never circulated.
  • Circulation in academic libraries dropped 37% between 2002 and 2008.
  • A library user in 2008 checked out 80% fewer books than a user in 1995.

More books have been digitized

  • Hathi Trust: 5.3 million book titles
  • Google Book Search: 15 Million+
  • Internet Archive:  1.5 million
  • Europeana:  2 million

More digital books are securely archived

The cost of keeping a book is significant

A June 2010 CLIR report concludes that a library bears an annual cost of:

  • $4.26 for each volume held in open stacks
  • $0.86 for each volume held in high-density storage

In a modest-sized academic library (say, 200K volumes), it is possible, even likely, that 50% of the collection—100,000 books—have not circulated within the past ten years.  In open stacks, this equals $426,000 spent per year with no benefit to users; in high-density storage, $86,000.

Many copies can be removed safely

A quarter of the secure digital titles held in Hathi Trust are also held in print by more than 100 libraries.

Distribution of Titles by WorldCat Holdings

 Source:  Constance Malpas, Program Officer, OCLC Research

 Related SCS Writings & Presentations

Other Publications

For more in-depth research, see the SCS Deselection Knowlege-Base