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Deselection FAQ

Why do some of the books on the shelves have an "X" marked on the spine?

In preparation for renovations of the LRC, the library is conducting a comprehensive review of our print holdings. The books marked with an "X" have been identified as possible candidates for removal from the library because they no longer meet the needs of JBU students. 

These books are still a part of the collection for the time being and remain available for check out by our users. If you want to check out a book with an "X" on it, simply bring it to the circulation desk as normal. If you see a book with an "X" on it that you think we should keep in the collection, please let the librarians know the title of the book and the JBU class(es) for which you think they would be useful.

Why are there so many books marked for possible removal? Will you have any left?

A thorough review of the library's holdings is long overdue, so there are some sections of the library with a lot of books about niche topics that aren't relevant to classes that are now taught at JBU, and other sections with a lot of books that are too far out of date to be useful for university assignments. In order to make it easier to find the current, high-quality books that will remain, there are some sections where we'll be removing a high percentage of the books.

The library will still have tens of thousands of print books at the end of this process, and it will continue to add new print books. We are also continuing to add to our ebook collections so that students can access appropriate academic resources in a variety of formats. 

Are these books being banned?

No. Deselection of outdated materials is a normal part of library maintenance and has nothing to do with books that are being removed from some libraries due to political or cultural controversies. If a JBU student at some point in the future discovers that they need one of the books that we have removed from our print collection in order to complete an assignment, we will be happy to acquire it for them from another library through interlibrary loan.

Will you give away the books when you remove them from the collection?

Most of the books will be removed over the summer when not many JBU students are around. We are partnering with the used book market experts at Once Upon a Time Books to resell or recycle most of the books that are being removed from the collection.

We regret that we do not have the storage capacity to set aside books for particular patrons. If you notice a book you would like to have for yourself, we recommend exploring online retailers like BookFinder or Better World Books or checking digital libraries like HathiTrust and the Open Library.

What are your criteria for deselection?

Books that we know are getting used, based on circulation data, and books with recent publication dates will be kept. Classic works of enduring literary or historical value and foundational works in various disciplines will also be retained (or replaced with newer copies if we find that our copies are in poor condition). Older books with no recent usage will be evaluated for academic value, relevance to the JBU curriculum, and condition. 

Shouldn't a university library keep everything, just in case it's useful someday? 

Research-focused university libraries often aim to be as comprehensive as possible in their collections for this reason -- for example, when University of Arkansas removes rarely used books from its main library, it moves them to off-site storage rather than removing them from the collection entirely.

As a teaching-centered university, JBU does not have the same mandate for long-term preservation of materials that could theoretically be of historical interest to future generations: our resources must be focused on the instructional needs of our current student body. While we do, in cooperation with other libraries, work to provide access to rarely used materials when they are needed, it is not an appropriate use of our limited space to house them indefinitely just in case they are needed someday.

What if I later need something you got rid of?

We'll help you find access to the same (or equivalent) material through interlibrary loan, digital libraries like HathiTrust and the Open Library, or our own ebook collections. In the unlikely event that something we removed later becomes important for instruction and multiple students will need it on an ongoing basis, we'll buy a new copy.

Can I give input into the deselection process?

Please email us if you would like to offer your input into the deselection criteria that are relevant to your discipline or make an appointment to discuss the project with a librarian. 

Will reducing the size of the library's print collection negatively affect our accreditation?

No. Accreditation agencies long ago stopped using the raw number of print volumes as a proxy for adequate instructional resources and instead consider the totality of available resources in both print and electronic forms when assessing universities and programs. JBU must continue to invest in electronic resources in order to provide the most up-to-date information available and to support both in-person and online instruction; as long as we do that, there is no risk to our accreditation by downsizing the print collection.  

Will you replace the books you're getting rid of with new ones?

The library will continue to add books to the collection, and we welcome your recommendations. We expect to maintain the total size of the collection at a relatively static number after this reduction by continuing to review and remove books as they become obsolete and we acquire new resources to take their place.