Deselection of Library Materials FAQ

Why are we deselecting?

Deselection of library materials is a constant process to make space for new items. These special projects require additional work and coordination. For STEM collections, the Engineering Library will be moving from Hammond Building to the new Engineering Collaborative Research and Education (ECoRE) Building. The new Engineering Library will not have shelves for onsite collections. The only books housed in the new library will be required textbooks (Course Reserves) and a few key reference books. For West and Central Pattee, the deselection process is aimed at creating space in the stacks which are nearing capacity. Additionally, deselection is a necessary and on-going step in collection development because the Libraries does not have the capacity to serve as a repository for everything. The collection must reflect core research areas and current curricular needs.

What’s happening with the deselected books?

The books that are withdrawn from our library collections are University property and must be disposed of properly. Our first option is to support collective archiving of materials, such as the BTAA Shared Print Repository. For many of the withdrawn books, we have developed a partnership with Better World Books, which funds literacy and education initiatives around the world. Another partnership is the Internet Archive which will digitize some of the selected materials and then make it available to the public free of charge. We strive for sustainable and financially responsible practices, so final decisions are based on multiple factors.  Some withdrawn books are in poor condition or do not meet donation criteria, and these will be recycled as pape

What are our criteria for deselection?

Our first criteria for deselection are duplicate materials, since we can easily share books among Penn State's many campuses. Next, low use and older materials are then identified as potential candidates for deselection. With specific criteria such as age of materials and usage, each subject has unique use patterns that our subject specialist librarians have tracked over time.

What is the timeline for deselection?

For the Engineering library project, the deselection decisions finished during Summer 2023. Library employees are now in the process of moving the remaining items to other locations at University Park and the Commonwealth Campuses.

For West and Central Pattee, the deselection process will be on-going because the main goal is to create space for future growth.

Are the financial effects of the pandemic a factor in the deselection process?

No. Deselection of materials is an on-going process central to collection development. In fact, the pandemic put this project on hold while library employees were working almost entirely remotely.

Who is involved in the deselection process?

A project of this size involves many library employees across the University Libraries. In no particular order, here are some the people involved: the STEM department, Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences and Education subject librarians, Subject Libraries Support Staff, Collection Maintenance, and Access Services.

Who has input on the deselection process?

Our librarians have communicated at various points with department chairs and library committees in the Colleges. We have shared our criteria and invited feedback on the specific approaches in each subject.

Who can I contact to provide input or ask additional questions?

If you want to find out more about the deselection criteria and decisions, please contact your subject librarian. For questions on the overall project, you can contact the project leads John Meier, Head of STEM for Outreach and Engagement and Betsaida Reyes, Head of Humanities and Social Sciences.

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