Short-term Collection Space Management Project Plan: FAQ

How do libraries manage collection space?

There are many approaches for libraries to manage collection space. Among them are installing high-density shelving similar to what is found in Olin Level B, using off-campus storage facilities like our West Campus facility, entering into shared collection arrangements and cooperative collection development strategies among libraries, reformatting or moving towards electronic collections, and various levels of weeding or de-accessioning.

What are the Libraries proposing in the Short-term Collection Space Management Plan?

The Libraries are proposing to de-accession some print journals from our collections in order to accommodate new books and print journals. This project has been developed based on consultation with our Faculty Library Committee.

Which materials are included in the plan?

Print journal back-files and antiquated reference tools are included. Monographs and other library materials and formats are not eligible for this project.

Why is de-accessioning necessary?

The Libraries receive new materials every day, but our space is finite. Currently, almost every library location on the Danforth Campus is facing a critical shortage of collection space. Overcrowding on bookshelves can cause damage to library materials and affects your ability to locate library materials needed for reading and research.

If some of the libraries are at capacity, why are there empty spaces on shelves?

Part of the Short-term Collection Space Management Plan include shifting of materials to relieve areas that are overcrowded. In some cases, space is being held for new collections and future expansion.

What Libraries are included in the project?

The project is limited to items that are part of the Olin Library System (Olin Library, West Campus Library, Chemistry Library, East Asian Library, Gaylord Music Library, Gustavus A. Pfeiffer Physics Library, Kenneth and Nancy Kranzberg Art & Architecture Library, Al and Ruth Kopolow Library at Olin Business School, Law Library, and Ronald Rettner Earth & Planetary Sciences Library) and does not include the Bernard Becker Medical Library or the Brown School Library.

How are journals selected for de-accessioning?

Initially, only print journal runs and antiquated reference tools that can be replaced by trusted electronic access will be de-accessioned. Later in the project, the Libraries will match journal holdings to those that are governed by formal consortia retention agreements, widely held by consortia partners (or preferred lenders) and no longer core to curricular needs of current departmental activities, long since ceased publication, or that we no longer subscribe to.

How many items will be de-accessioned?

Removing approximately 95,000 volumes from our collections would allow for 3 years of collection growth and return library facilities to operational capacity. That number represents a small fraction of our collection of over 5.5 million volumes.

How can I get access to the information held in this now de-accessioned volume?

In most cases, the same content is also available electronically from online archives such as JSTOR. In other cases, Libraries’ consortial library partners provide reliable electronic access to the content via interlibrary loan.

The Libraries are committed to securing long-term, perpetual access to the print and electronic content you depend on. You can read more about our commitment to long-term access on our website:

What changes can I expect to see after the project has been completed?

We hope that you will notice that materials are easier to find on the shelves once the crowding has been reduced. Some infrequently-used materials will be transferred to the West Campus Library remote storage, but you can still find them by searching in the Libraries’ catalog.

Are the Libraries still buying new journals?

Of course! Online journals allow us to maximize space and access, but we still maintain print subscriptions when electronic formats are either unavailable or insufficient. Our subscriptions are reviewed every year to make sure we are meeting the current needs of our users.

How long will this project last?

This project will begin this month with the identification of eligible materials and will take approximately 12 months to complete.

How can I find out what titles are being considered for de-accessioning?

The Libraries will post titles being considered for de-accessioning on a Collection Space Management Initiative page on our website. Several title lists will be posted, and faculty will be given eight (8) weeks to review each of the lists. Subject Librarians will notify faculty as each of the lists are posted.

How can I recommend a journal be removed from the list of considered items?

You can request items be removed from consideration by consulting with faculty colleagues and review by your department to confirm an ongoing need for the title and/or specific years of that title that justify it remaining in the Libraries’ collection.

How can I obtain de-accessioned materials?

The WU community will be allowed to remove de-accessioned materials after Libraries staff have completed their work provided it is not disruptive to staff workflows. The requestor must retrieve any de-accessioned items before a specified date.

What happens to journals that are de-accessioned?

De-accessioned items will be recycled for paper pulp. They will not be sent to landfills.

Whom should I contact if I have questions?

Contact either your Subject Librarian or Denise Stephens, vice provost and university librarian, with any questions about the process.