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Books as inventory: suggested lessons from business

James W. Marcum (Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, New Jersey, USA)

The Bottom Line

ISSN: 0888-045X

Article publication date: 30 May 2008




The purpose of this paper is to describe books as inventory and suggest lessons which can be learned from business.


Discusses inventory theory and how it pertains to libraries.


New books get most of their use in the first two years on the shelf, as a rule. A book that is unused is “dead inventory” from the perspective of this argument. The small public library that “weeds and turns” its holdings will be highly valued by its patrons. An academic library with 90 percent of its holdings sitting idle may be revered by a core of faculty and friends; but it will likely be totally ignored by many of the net generation who read few books or print journals. This high price in idle inventory cannot continue to be borne if libraries are to thrive in a challenging and fast‐changing future.


The paper offers an alternative view that may help library adminstrators cope with the challenges they face.



Marcum, J.W. (2008), "Books as inventory: suggested lessons from business", The Bottom Line, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 14-16.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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