UVM library 'weeding' books

Published: Feb. 21, 2018 at 7:51 AM EST
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Libraries across the country are seeing a shift-- more visitors but fewer books. As more books are being turned into digital copies, libraries at colleges like the University of Vermont are cleaning out the unused books.

Each day, nearly 9,000 students make their way into UVM's Bailey-Howe library.

"I go to the library about four or five times a week," said Aver Shaw, a UVM freshman.

"It has really exploded in terms of use," said Mara Saule, UVM's dean of libraries.

There are 1.6 million books in the library's collection, and while more people than ever are spending their time here, it's not exactly for the pages. In 2016, 90,000 books went almost two decades without being used. The library put them in remote storage. That's the most amount of books to be taken out of this library at one time.

"Libraries have always done weeding," said Saule.

She says her team is constantly checking for duplicates, a book's relevance and whether it's already stored online. If so, those books are taken off the shelves and are recycled or stored. It's happening more often, and some of these shelves are staying empty.

"The number of print books that we get in is fewer and fewer," said Saule.

She says the library still adds about 1,200 physical books a year, but when it comes to research journals, digitizing is the future. And it's changing the way students study.

"I use a lot of online journal publications for research outside of just getting a book," said Thomas Clayton, a senior at UVM.

"As long as our researchers are getting the information that they need when they need it, and that includes now and in the future, that's what we want to see happen," said Saule.

Technology brings challenges, too, like making sure the work is credible. Staff members are now working to educate students on how to identify legitimate sources.