For most college and university libraries, deselection of monographs should be an essential component of collection development. Few of these libraries have unlimited space for book stack expansion. This research study aims to cover the reasons why this should be undertaken and how it can be accomplished in the humanities and social sciences. At the main campus of Adelphi University Libraries, a conservative approach was used to identify and carefully review monograph titles that were published more than 50 years ago, and, in most cases, this resulted in their deselection without significantly affecting the collection. For some of these titles, the author determined that they might be worth replacing with available e-books and the author did so.
A brief overview is provided to delineate why deselection is important, and how it can be accomplished. A literature review was prepared. It included a review of deselection at small-, medium- and large-sized college and university libraries. The pros and cons of print versus e-books for collection development were reviewed, including four case studies. The feasibility of replacing print reference titles with e-books was also covered. A review of the monograph weeding project at the Adelphi University Library in the humanities and social sciences is provided. Conclusions and a projection of next steps are also included.
An overwhelming majority of the monograph titles reviewed were deselected without adversely affecting the overall quality of the collection. A small number of available e-book editions were selected to replace some of these deselected titles.
All of the titles deselected were published more than 50 years ago. All of these titles were in the social sciences and humanities. The deselection review was limited to philosophy, religion, history, political science, sociology, education and psychology. There were limitations on the amount of time available to review titles in most of these fields, and as a result, only a small percentage of the titles in our collection could be reviewed.
The library has very serious space constraints, which has made it difficult to provide the needed study space for members of the Adelphi University community. Some sections of the book collection are jam packed, with no room for expansion. Deselecting older less used titles and eliminating some sections of book shelves help address both of these problems. Replacing some of these print titles with e-books contributes as well. This deselection project has reduced the holdings of monograph print titles significantly. In the future, the author hopes to rely less on print titles and more on e-books for collection development.
In most fields, college and university students would be better served for their research by more recently published titles. Older, less used titles, as well as those not used at all, should be deselected to make room for more useful and up-to-date titles. As more and more titles become readily available as e-books, the collections of print titles can be reduced. Being able to use e-books even when the library is closed is a great advantage. It should also be noted that these titles can be used by more than one user simultaneously.
In conducting the literature search, the author discovered that there were a large number of titles on deselecting print titles. There was also considerable research on e-book collection development. However, there were few that linked these two important topics. In this research article and case study, the author hopes to have made a significant contribution to linking them together.
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