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Library Deselection Project

Criteria for Deselection.DOCX
Deselection: Frequently Asked Questions

This is a garden, but not every plant in it is meant to be kept.

removing weeds in a walkway
A People's Garden in Washington, D.C., from the USDA flickr

The Library has embarked on a very ambitious project. We are moving to become a digital library with only a few exceptions. The intention is that existing spaces for study and new spaces be equipped with the latest technology to promote active learning with spaces for group work and classroom and seminar presentations. To allow for these new spaces, much of the existing print collection will be deselected. This project should allow us to better serve our constituents and meet the needs of the changing student population that we have seen over the fifteen years we have been in this building.

Perhaps a bit of library science's philosophical underpinnings explains this in clearer terms. The Five Laws of Library Science is a theory proposed by S. R. Ranganathan in 1931, detailing the principles of operating a library system. Many librarians worldwide accept them as the foundations of their philosophy. These laws are:

  1. Books are for use.
  2. Every reader his [or her] book.
  3. Every book its reader.
  4. Save the time of the reader.
  5. The library is a growing organism.

As a growing organism, we strive to make ourselves aware of what our users want. Usage statistics have shown that print materials circulation has been less than e-book use for the last ten years. Print materials (books and serials) total use in 2013-2014 was 2.4% of the total use of 135,805 full-text books and serials. Students prefer electronic materials over print materials even when both are available and it is common to hear "don't you have anything electronic on the subject?" when a user encounters only print availability.

Please remember, we are not "purging" the collection, as one person put it. In order to free up two floors of space, we have committed to this major change in our collection and collecting. Furthermore, the health of the collection necessitates regular evaluation and assessment of its contents – deselecting is just as important as selecting. Currently, we are reaching the end of the process and have begun shifting the collection, so if things seem a little bit out of place, please bear with us! If you have questions regarding the deselection project or its process, please contact Megan Lowe, Asst. Dean and Coordinator of Public Services at lowe@ulm.edu. You can also check out the Deselection FAQ