Long-term Management of the Print Collections at Tisch Library

Tisch Library has been monitoring carefully the growth of our physical collections. Growth has slowed as we have added electronic resources, but it has not by any means stopped. At present, we expect to reach our shelving capacity within 10 years for the regular circulating collection and we have already exceeded our capacity for the Oversized and Fine Arts collection. As expected, and for a variety of reasons, use of the physical collections is declining somewhat while demands for additional uses of library space are increasing. Therefore, our planning study to renovate Tisch Library included consideration of decreasing the shelving capacity of Tisch Library. Such a renovation would make it possible to expand our seating capacity and increase the technological capabilities of the Library to accommodate the needs of students in pursuing their academic work.

Tisch Shelving Capacity:

The attached two PDFs visualize our shelving capacity and collection size, showing twenty-five years of actual and projected growth (2003-2028). These charts also include a blue line indicating our shelving capacity. Please note that changes of shelving capacity due to any renovation phases are hypothetical at this point. The renovation is only at a conceptual planning stage and has not yet been approved for design work with an architect. Thus the timing of any renovation is also hypothetical and represents the earliest that the library staff believes we could manage major shelving changes.

Identifying Options for the Future:

As we approach the capacity of our shelving, it is imperative that the Library make long-term plans for managing our physical collections. We recommend that additional shelving capacity be located outside of Tisch. This recommendation is based on a variety of factors, but two are the most important:

  1. We do not believe we can reduce the collections (by weeding or deaccessioning materials) at a rate that would keep up with acquisitions of needed new materials without undermining the collections and harming Tufts' access to research materials in the near future.
  2. Expanding Tisch Library to build additional shelving capacity is an expensive and risky investment for the long-term. Given the rapid growth of electronic resources, the potential for enhanced future collaborations with local universities, and the success numerous universities have achieved in using off-site shelving, we believe off-site shelving is a better approach to meet the needs of the Tufts community.

We have come to this conclusion after careful study. However, the placement of collections in another location can be done in many different ways. The choices of which materials are moved and the service model for retrieving these collections are vital considerations. Needless to say, materials sent off-site must be retrievable as needed within a reasonable timeframe. Before we can even consider the details of new collection locations, we want to solicit insight from faculty about their use of the collections and any concerns about how collections are located and retrieved.

Selecting Materials for Off-Site Storage

A significant number colleges and universities already depend on off-site storage and retrieval for their collections. As such, we have collected a variety of approaches in a chart, along with some of the advantages and disadvantages of each. This chart was discussed with the AS&E Library Committee. It is worth noting that these methods are not mutually exclusive options. It is quite likely that a mixture of approaches would suit our needs best.

A Snapshot of the Current Circulating Collections

The circulating collections exclude some materials in Tisch, such as reference collections, special collections, and journals. However, we are able to summarize the size of the collections according to their broad subject classification by Library of Congress Call Number. Then, within those call number ranges, we are able to review recent circulation. Although circulation does not represent all uses of the collections, it is valuable data. The attached chart provides some insight into the sizes of various parts of the circulating book collections. It also indicates the proportion of the collection that circulated since 2004.

Faculty Input

Our purpose in sharing this information is to provide context for interested faculty while also inviting your informed input into our future planning. As we begin the process of evaluating potential options for our print collections, we want to understand how current faculty use these collections and what your priorities are. This in turn will shape our evaluation criteria and may promote further discussion with the faculty. Feedback will be reviewed by the AS&E Library Committee and by the Tisch Library administration.

We invite you to submit your comments in response to these questions:

Thank you for your consideration of these issues and any feedback you can provide. Please feel free to contact us for further discussion or if you have questions about anything you see here.

Laura C. Wood
Director of Tisch Library
Laura R. Walters
Associate Director of Tisch Library