JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Thousands of books are headed out of the Dean B. Ellis Library on Arkansas State University's campus.
Library Director Jeff Bailey said this is actually a small number of books and quite a normal process.
"The retiring of materials is an ongoing process," Bailey said. "We usually buy somewhere between 6,000 to 8,000 new print books a year. Right now, we're withdrawing somewhere close to that amount. But when you consider we have over half a million books on those shelves in the library, that's really a small percentage."
Bailey said the main reason they remove a book is if the information is no longer current.
"It's only a small number of the books we have in our collection," Bailey said. "The books that are being retired or withdrawn from the collection, and there are several reasons for doing that. A lot of it is to keep the collection current and relevant. There are so many books published now that no library can collect everything. And a library like the one here at Arkansas State University, our primary purpose is to have the books and other resources in the library that support the research the faculty does and the courses the students take. So, we support the academic enterprise of the university. And when some things no longer fit that focus, it's time to consider whether or not to keep them in the collection."
Bailey said another reason to replace a book is if it's too damaged to repair or hasn't been used in a long time.
"Some of the primary factors we look at," Bailey said. "Are the condition of the materials. Are they damaged? Are they falling apart? How long has it been since something has been used? There are some books that you can tell from looking at them that once upon a time they were heavily used. But we have about 17 years' worth of circulation. And if a book has been well worn, but hasn't been used in 17 years, that's probably a pretty good candidate to move on and keep the more current, relevant materials of the collection."
Bailey said E-books have become very popular with the faculty and students.
"In most cases, everything is replaced," Bailey said. "If it's damaged we try to either replace it with exactly the same item or with something very similar that is also of high quality. Some of the other items... libraries are no longer just about print books. We have E-books and all kinds of databases, online journals, and things of that nature that people access that aren't just our print books. And so, the overall size of our print book collection is starting to shrink a little bit. Not a lot, but a little bit. There are some we won't specifically replace, such as the old textbooks and things like that. Those would be the types of things we wouldn't choose to replace."
Bailey said they'll make things more convenient for A-State students by getting rid of the unused material.
"We think the effect for students," Bailey said. "By getting older materials off the shelves that are no longer relevant, that aren't quality materials, will make it easier for the students to find the high-quality materials. And actually, most libraries at colleges and universities around the country, when they withdraw materials from the collection, the overall usage of the print materials in the library goes up because it's so much easier to find the good materials."
Bailey said if a student damages or loses material they've checked out, Bailey said they will bill the student and they will pay for the replacement copy.
All retired books are sent to the A-State Recycling Center.
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