Print Book Circulation Longevity Dropping at a Small Canadian University Library
A Review of:
Belvadi, M. (2021). Longevity of print book use at a small public university: A 30-year longitudinal study. Insights, 34(1), 26. http://doi.org/10.1629/uksg.562
Objective – To inform future collecting decisions by ascertaining the circulation longevity of print books within an academic library.
Design – Longitudinal data analysis of two circulation datasets.
Setting – Library catalogue of a small public university in Canada.
Subjects – 10,002 print books acquired between 1991 and 1996 with a first circulation year between 1991 and 2000 (part 1); 4,060 print books acquired and with a first circulation year between 2008 and 2011 (part 2A); 35,860 print books acquired since 1991 with a first circulation year between 2008 and 2011 (parts 2B).
Methods – The researcher established two datasets by selecting books with viable circulation data from the institution’s holdings. Using each book’s Library of Congress classification number, the researcher mapped each book to three other categorization schemes. The first scheme, Becher-Biglan typology, categorizes books as belonging to either applied or hard and pure or soft fields of study. The second scheme, called in the paper “major subjects,” uses a traditional broad subject categorization (e.g. arts, sciences, health, etc.), and the third scheme categorizes books by the academic programs at the researcher’s institution. The researcher then analyzed the circulation data through the lens of these three categorization schemes.
Main Results – Part 1, which considered the collection’s older circulated books, found that books had an average circulation longevity of 10 years. About 14% of books circulated for only one year, and about 24% of books circulated for less than five years. Among the newer books considered in Part 2, 37% circulated for just one year and 64% had a circulation longevity of four years.
Conclusion – Books in applied and hard fields generally have greater longevity compared to pure and soft fields. Books in professional and STEM fields generally have greater longevity than books in the humanities and arts, contrary to conventional library wisdom. Print book circulation longevity appears to be dropping. Subscription and on-demand acquisitions options may prove to be a more efficacious use of resources than ‘just-in-case’ print collecting.
Belvadi, M. (2021). Longevity of print book use at a small public university: a 30-year longitudinal study. Insights, 34(1), 26. http://doi.org/10.1629/uksg.562
Glynn, L. (2006). A critical appraisal tool for library and information research. Library Hi Tech, 24(3), 387-399. https://doi.org/10.1108/07378830610692154
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