Depository overflows with excess university books

Tiffany Ciesicki

The Northeast Depository is where five local university libraries send materials that can no longer be squeezed onto shelves.

The storage space is almost full.

The Kent State Library recently decided it was time to clear some space on its shelves. Though this time, it won’t be relying on the depository to store any materials pulled from the collection.

Library administrators, with input from faculty and staff, began going through their options on how to free up more shelf space in the library, said Tom Klingler, assistant dean for systems and technical services. They found themselves with only one solution: get rid of stuff.

Senior administrators are leading a task force and working with faculty and staff to go through materials that are no longer necessary to the collection. Klingler said there are three steps to this plan.

First, the library staff will begin pulling books with multiple copies. Then faculty will look at three things when considering how many copies to keep on the shelves: the year the book was published, the condition of the copy and the circulation of the title.

The second step is to go through classified serials, which are materials such as business directories, Klingler said. Many times these classifications will contain the same information year after year, and not all copies of the same publication may be necessary.

Third, the heads of the branch libraries will begin working with their departments to sort through each item one by one. Klingler said this step is still a long way away.

Now that the process has begun, it must be kept up, Klingler said.

“For us at Kent State, the idea of weeding sounds like a new thing,” he said. “But this should be done all the time.”

Running out of space was not originally a concern because the library is so big. Klingler said in the beginning the idea was to fill, fill, fill. But in 2004, library staff began having trouble fitting returned books back onto the shelves. Many of the books could not be shelved at all. This is when the severity of the problem became apparent.

“Shelves should never be more than 80 percent full,” Klingler said. “Almost all in the library are.”

When the Northeast Depository was built 12 years ago it was assumed that once the space filled, a second module would be built, said Judy Scalf, manager of the Northeast Depository. However, she said though planning money was cleared in 2001, the construction money never passed.

Though running short on space, Scalf said the depository is still accepting materials.

“We have not yet told anyone we can’t take materials,” she said. “But we are encouraging the review of materials being sent.”

Klingler said a new rule was passed on March 1 to ensure that too many copies of the same item are not being sent from different schools. He said no more than three copies of anything are allowed. This means three copies total, counting copies from all contributing universities.

“If we want to contribute an item and CSU (Cleveland State) has one copy there and the University of Akron has two copies there, we can’t send anything,” he said.

Kent State is still sending materials to the depository, but the amount is limited. Klingler said they send about one-fourth of the previous amount.

“At our peak sending times in past years, we were sending on average 90 to 100 boxes per week to the depository,” he said. “Now our practical maximum that we send is one shipment per month of a maximum of 100 boxes.”

Contact library reporter Tiffany Ciesicki at [email protected].



The library has made it a priority to make sure any discarded books find a good home.

It has signed with a company called Better World Books, which will take any discarded books still in good condition and attempt to sell them wherever they are needed, said Tom Klingler, assistant dean for systems and technical services, a leader in the library’s weeding project.

Any profits made from the books sold will be split.

Twenty-five percent will go back to the library and will be put back into the book budget. Fifteen percent will go to a literacy partner, a charity that the library chooses out of the three sponsored by Better World Books. Better World Books will keep the last 65 percent of the profits.

Klingler said some of the discarded books will be sold in the library’s book sale. Any money made will go back into the library’s book budget.

“The books aren’t going in the Dumpster,” he said. “They are being donated or sold to people who can use them.”