I write to let you know about several projects planned for the physical collections of Crumb Library. In Spring Semester 2012, the staff of the College Libraries will undertake four major projects (described below). Each project is designed to serve two goals:
Collection Building is more than just buying new books each year. We dedicate more than $130,000 annually to purchasing new books, and have been building the collections of the College Libraries for as long as there have been libraries on our campus -- much of our 200 year history -- but we have not comprehensively evaluated our collections for some time. Recent data analysis shows that 40% of the books we purchase in any given year don't circulate to users, a problem compounded by the passage of time and aging of information. We are working to make better choices when we purchase new materials, but the aging and unused portions of the collection remain on our shelves. In order to ensure we have a relevant, dynamic, and valuable collection, we must begin to evaluate all of our holdings. While we have worked with individual faculty or departments to evaluate small sections of the collection, we have focused largely on books, and have allowed our work to proceed as quickly or slowly as our other workloads dictated. In short, we have not focused on curation or maintenance with the same intensity we apply to buying. The result is that Crumb's collection is no longer as strong as it could be.
And our collection/service balance is off, in Crumb, as well. 12% of the collection is housed in ADA-non-compliant space in the basement of Crumb that was awkwardly retrofitted for public use, and another 11% of the collection is housed in spaces the initial architectural plans intended as teaching and learning space. Student use of Crumb is increasing by 10-20% each year, and our ability to support those students with good study space is dependent on reallocating facilities resources between collections and users. The good news is that Crumb Library is fortunate to be looking ahead to significant renovation in the next cycle of capital funding. In light of that, we anticipate having to physically move every single item in the library. Planning for that labor-intensive and mission-critical project requires that we review our materials in a significant way, and retain those items valuable to our current curriculum but do not keep (and move, and store) things that we cannot expect will be used in physical formats. When this pending project and its complexities is combined with our acknowledgement that a collection review is necessary and overdue, it becomes clear that we must undertake these projects with all due seriousness.
To these ends, the following four projects are beginning:
It is our hope that these four projects will strengthen our collections, position Crumb Library to take full advantage of the funding being offered for renovations, and will allow us to create an iteration of Crumb Library that is both visionary and effective for our campus community as we support our teaching and learning goals.
If you are interested in participating in the pre-1950 monograph project, this is the plan:
Faculty are understandably interested in what happens to items removed from our collections. Most of our discarded books are being processed by Better World Books (http://www.betterworldbooks.com/), a vendor that has a used book storefront and supports literacy initiatives while also returning a percentage of profits to the submitting library. Using Better World Books is a cost-free way to reduce our in-house workload, ensures we consign fewer books to dumpsters and landfills, and provides a mechanism for the community to purchase the used, discarded books if they so choose. SUNY Potsdam’s “Online Sidewalk Sale” at Better World Books is at http://www.betterworldbooks.com/category-H0.aspx?SuffixId=31499.
If you have any questions about this process, please contact me, and I will discuss your concerns with you.