British Universities Shed Books

Universities dispose of more than 1.8 million books and journals a year, according to official figures… Statistics obtained by The Times Higher [Education Supplement] show that 36 institutions got rid of more books and printed volumes than they acquired.

Seems it has to do with the need to create space for e-learning environments, or so the claim goes. In aggregate, however, libraries acquired more print materials than they “decomissioned,” some 2.8 million volumes in 2005-2006.


  1. I’m sure that the librarians among us are all thinking: “Yeah, sounds about right”. The pace of publishing activity doesn’t seem to have diminished, but the size of libraries is fixed. What do you do?

    Many non-librarian bibliophiles (such as Alberto Manguel, in his The Library at Night) bemoan that libraries must weed and digitize collections. Until such time as a domesticated black hole has been created (which suitable retrieval mechanisms), weeding will continue to be a fact of library life.

    We can only hope that those weeded volumes find themselves a new home with someone who will love and appreciate them, rather than occupying a landfill somewhere.


  2. Yeah, that sounds about right.