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Calibrating the Library Collection

The new library facility will be an impressive addition to the Monroe Park Campus. Although there is not funding to completely renovate the existing Cabell Library building, the new space will affect its uses. While greatly expanding the storage capacity for our special collections and archives and creating additional user space, the renovation also will reduce the library’s capacity to house the rest of its physical volumes, which are still growing at 20,000 to 25,000 volumes per year.

VCU librarians are carefully assessing the needs of the VCU community by analyzing use and circulation patterns, and by studying how other research libraries manage their print collections in light of the burgeoning growth of eresources. Without a large storage facility that many research libraries have, there is a critical requirement in the VCU Libraries to reduce the size of the print collection. There are several major components to calibrating the collection to make it conform to the demands both of a contemporary research library and constrained space.

  1. The reference collection on Cabell’s first floor will be reduced. Legal and reference sets and indexes that have been superseded by eresources or that are no longer appropriate for VCU will be withdrawn. Remaining volumes will be integrated into the open stacks and made available for circulation, while retaining a small reference area.
  2. Use of government documents has been shrinking because most titles are available electronically or are superseded. These obsolete volumes will be withdrawn.
  3. JSTOR collections replace print journals with high-quality digital images. In the 2010 renovation, most printed bound volumes replaced by JSTOR were moved to storage in 500 Academic Centre. In an analysis of use for the past two years, only two articles were requested from the archive by the VCU community. Librarians have reviewed the titles and determined that about 860 journals have print volumes at VCU that can be safely withdrawn without affecting scholarship or the classroom because VCU Libraries has the electronic version.
  4. Duplicate copies of books with low circulation and obsolete books without curricular or research value to VCU will be withdrawn. Discarded volumes will be sold or offered to other libraries.
  5. In some cases, print volumes for which permanent ebook versions exist will be withdrawn, especially if the print version is worn and at the end of its useful life.
  6. Compact shelving will be installed in 500 Academic Centre to increase its capacity. Books with a history of low use will be moved into the facility when it is ready. Remaining volumes in Cabell will be shifted to make room for renovations.

If you have questions about the collection calibration plan, please contact the librarians responsible for your subject area:

  • Karen Cary, Head, Collection Analysis and Investment Department
  • John Duke, Senior Associate University Librarian

More information

VCU Libraries

James Branch Cabell Library Monroe Park Campus
901 Park Ave., Richmond, VA 23284-2033
Toll-free: (866) 828-2665
(804) 828-1111
All Libraries
Tompkins-McCaw Library MCV Campus
509 N. 12th St., Richmond, VA 23298-0582
Toll-free: (866) 828-2665
(804) 828-0636

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