Charles V. Park Library spends $4 million yearly updating book collection

Charlotte Bodak/Staff Photographer Coleman freshman Katie Murphy, member of Access Service Circulation, prepares a book for checkout behind the Book Checkout Desk Thursday afternoon at the Charles V Park Library. "I haven't worked here for very long," said Murphy. "But I've heard that the number of books being checked out is fluctuating."

The automated bookshelves in the Charles V. Park Library would stretch 33 miles if they were spread out side-by-side.

In order to keep the nearly 1.3-million-volume collection up to date, an average of $4 million is spent on new content each year, according to Dean of Libraries Thomas Moore.

“Our goal is to support the academic programs of the university and all of the university,” Moore said. “We have money that comes to us from a general fund, and we’re buying throughout the year to do that.”

During the 2010-11 year, the library had a budget of $4,285,525 for purchasing materials. This budget is spread out amongst purchases of books, journals, music and DVDs for the library’s continuously updated collection.

“We probably buy 10,000-12,000 books a year on the shelves and thousands more online,” Moore said. “We buy them everyday throughout the year, or just about.”

The library also has subscriptions to 1,400 print journals and 1,200 digital journals, as well as about 100,000 digital books and 24,000 digital journals in online packages.

In comparison, Michigan State University’s library has a budget of nearly $14 million for increasing its collection this fiscal year, said Colleen Hyslop, senior associate director of libraries at MSU. The University of Michigan spent $24.7 million last year for its library, said Kathleen Folger, electronic resources officer for the U-M library.

With the constant shuffling of content into the library, there needs to be a removal process of outdated material.

Subject librarians are responsible for retaining currency in the collection and weeding out the materials that are no longer relevant. Some librarians are assigned to multiple academic departments in which they have background.

Books and journals that are removed from the library’s collection may be discarded or are more commonly sold at a spring book sale to make room for updated material.

“We have an arrangement where we want certain books for each area, and we have a profile on record with vendors that might hold access to multiple publishers,” Moore said. “Then when something gets published that meets our profile, it’s just sent to us.”

Such an arrangement is known as an approval plan, because subject librarians are responsible for deciding if the material is worth having once it’s received or if it needs to be sent back.

“We’re increasingly buying online journals that are sometimes also in paper or only online,” Moore said. “The bulk are online, and there are many advantages to that, like being available 24-7, wherever you are, whenever.”

Since its renovation and reopening in 2002, the library has had a decrease in people physically using it.

“Fewer people are coming in from when it opened, but not by a huge amount,” Moore said. “Also, there has been a significant growth in use online. We get millions of hits on our site and journal collections a year.”

The library’s 360 computers and seating for more than 2,600 people make it an ideal studying environment, despite the change in popularity from print to digital.

As students continue to shift their use of the library for more online content, computers and other technology become more important for students to gain access to information.

“I use the library three or four days a week,” said Flushing junior Andrea Conquest. “I use it to study and haven’t ever checked out a book. The space of the library is useful, but the hard copies of books and articles are becoming less popular.”

While the majority of content in the library can be seen online by iPad or computer, Moore said the library hasn’t gotten to providing material for eReaders, such as the Kindle and Nook.

“The library should make its books available on electronics,” Conquest said. “Having a book available electronically would be much easier than tracking it down in the library and then carrying it around.”