Manchester University
Oak Leaves

April 15, 2016
HAPPY READING The library offers shelves of free books to students and faculty. Thousands of books have also been donated to Better World Books. Photo by Emily Barrand.

Funderburg Library Finds New Homes for Thousands of Books

Carly Kwiecien

Funderburg Library is one of the several academic libraries across America that is rehoming thousands of books each year in order to reallocate space to best meet the needs of library users.

With the rise of online academic research resources, there is a decline in the readership of print books at Funderburg Library. Last school year, 1,676 books were checked out, which is down several thousand from what was borrowed a decade ago.

“It is now possible to borrow a book from other in-state schools and have it delivered (on average) in three work days,” said Jill Lichtsinn, director of Funderburg Library.

Last year, the library borrowed nearly 800 books from other libraries through interlibrary loan.

“With reduced use of books from the Funderburg Library collection, quick loans of books from other schools and requests from students for more study areas, it was time to carefully consider how to reallocate space in the Funderburg Library,” said Darla Haines, technical services librarian. “As we withdraw large numbers of books, one of our concerns is that as many of them as possible find a second life outside the library.”

As a result, over 20,000 books have been sent to Better World Books (BWB), an organization that sells books online and then donates some of the proceeds to fund literacy programs worldwide. Funderburg also receives a small part of the profit as books are sold, which is used to add new book titles to the collection.

Only books that BWB identifies as good candidates for resale or donation are sent their way. The books that remain are free to the campus community; students can find them in the foyer of the library for up to a month.

“Funderburg Library began this process over three years ago when we downsized the bound periodical collection and withdrew over 10,000 titles from the social sciences,” Lichtsinn said. “It continued last summer when we downsized the reference collection on the main floor and integrated many of them into the circulating collection. Those projects made room for the computer lab downstairs, Wilbur’s Café and more student study spaces on the main and upper level.”

Over the last three years, close to 46,000 volumes of varying subjects were rehomed or recycled, including those on philosophy, psychology, religion, literature, social sciences, math, science, business and the reference collection.

Librarians choose which books should be withdrawn from the library based on their publication year and how frequently they have been checked out.

“We work almost exclusively with titles published before 1980 that have not been loaned since 1997, the year our book search and loan process went online,” Haines said.

Specialized book collection software has made it easier for librarians to track book use and locate books that are referred to as “no use” titles.

Librarians then personally review the targeted titles in their subject specialty areas to determine if any of them should remain in the collection because they are still applicable to Manchester University’s curriculum or are considered classics.

As the rehoming project nears completion, modern language and history books will be available for free in the foyer of the library during April and May.

Do not hesitate to contact Funderburg librarians with any questions about the downsizing of book collections, requesting new print books and repurposing of the library space.