After the May 2018 fire at Hale Library, more than 1.5 million items were moved to storage facilities across the region where each item was cleaned by hand. The Libraries now face the monumental and unprecedented task of organizing the collection and returning materials to the library.
The unique circumstance presents an opportunity for the Libraries to improve the quality of the collection by removing materials that are dated, in poor condition, or no longer align with teaching and research efforts at K-State.
Our Decision-Making Process
The Libraries will utilize qualitative and quantitative data to make informed decisions about the location of materials. Most materials will go back into Hale Library, some will be re-located to our off-site storage facility (the Annex), and some will be marked for removal from our collection.
A survey was distributed in the fall of 2019 to gather information from the K-State community on their use of the print collections in their research and teaching efforts. Those results in addition to ongoing communication with librarians and their liaison departments will help inform decisions.
In a recent analysis of more than one million print items in the circulating collection, data showed that a third of the materials have not been checked out since 1995. Electronic data is not available before that date. Results also indicated that the print collection is older than most academic research libraries with 96 percent of items analyzed being more than 10 years old.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does it mean to curate a collection and why do libraries do it?
By curation, we mean the selection and de-selection of materials to create a collection that best aligns with the mission of Kansas State University and the teaching, research, and learning needs of our students and community.
Curation is fluid and evolving. Circulating collections, spaces, and services are intended to change as academic programs change. K-State Libraries (as do all physical libraries) work with finite space. We curate to ensure we are stewarding our collections and space in a responsible and meaningful way.
Does this project include Special Collections?
No. This project will not include materials from the Morse Department of Special Collections.
Why are K-State Libraries doing this now?
Curation is an essential component of collection management for all libraries. Because of the 2018 fire, the Libraries will have to go through the entire print collection from Hale Library in preparation for its return to the building. This is a rare opportunity for a library. This process guided by qualitative data from campus and quantitative data from electronic records will allow us to create a more useful collection for the research and teaching mission of Kansas State University.
When will the books return?
We began moving the main collection back in to Hale Library in August 2020. However, materials are not available to the public due to ongoing construction.
A refill of this scale will take many months to accomplish and may be impacted by several factors including any delays in the delivery or installation of large amounts of new shelving and potential staffing shortages due to the ongoing pandemic. An estimated project completion date will be provided in early October once we have completed the pilot phase of the return process.
Can I still access print materials?
Yes! Since the fire, the Libraries have been working hard to transfer thousands of cleaned materials to our Annex. These materials will show in search results and can be requested for delivery to the library help desk of your choice. Retrievals are made daily Monday through Friday.
Additionally, K-Staters can use our Interlibrary Loan service to request materials. We will work to borrow those items from other libraries.
What are the curation criteria for the return of materials?
In general, materials that are physically worn or damaged, contain dated information, have extremely low usage over time, or no longer align with current research and teaching efforts are not candidates for retention.
Decisions are made based circulation data, uniqueness, availability of the exact item among Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA) members, survey data received from the November 2019 print collections survey, and campus research and teaching needs as obtained by academic services librarians.
We understand that usage is not the only criteria. Librarians will review initial decisions and make adjustments throughout the project.
How are deselected materials being handled?
The Libraries are required to follow state statute, K.S.A.S. 75-6602, and the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) policy regarding disposal and disposition of property. Both the state statute and KBOR policies inform the Libraries’ options. We are unable to give away state property to individuals.
We aim for a sustainability-informed approach and are looking into various options including donation. As we refill Hale, we will continue to store materials identified for deselection allowing for additional review time and further conversations.