Friday, November 5, 2010

Space: The Final Frontier

In an article entitled "Life Cycle Costs of Library Collections", which appeared in the November 2001 issue of College & Research Libraries, authors Stephen R. Lawrence, Lynn Silipigni Connaway, and Keith H. Brigham estimated floor space requirements for monographs as follows:

Volumes |----------|Square feet
100,000|------------ |20,000
250,000|------------ |45,000
500,000|------------ |80,000
1,000,000|---------- |150,000
2,700,000|---------- |405,000

Most libraries are wrestling with growing space pressures. Gate counts are on the rise. Demand for collaborative study space, expanded information commons, additional user seating, and even amenities such as coffee shops continues to grow. Meanwhile, circulation of monographs in most libraries is flat or declining, with a sizable percentage of most collections not used at all.

It's interesting to consider the space occupied by low-use print collections in this context. What could be gained by removal from prime central campus space of titles that have not been used in ten or more years? Storage or withdrawal of 100,000 volumes would yield 20,000 square feet--an area of 200' x 100', or, configured as a square, 141.42' x 141.42.

Even a more modest effort--say, 10,000 volumes--would yield an area 50' x 40', once the space savings have been consolidated. In a recent library visit, I found this visual evidence of deselection work, hinting at the potential of such a project.

--Where the stacks were....

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