Downsizing Your Library Collection

The Fogler Rubinoff library recently faced the daunting task of disposing of 200 boxes of books which had formerly occupied shelves in our library but were now, with a prior library downsizing, a recent move, and the availability of all of the material online, in a storage facility in the basement of the TD Centre. After many phone calls and listserv postings, we discovered that print report series have no value and that it is difficult and time consuming to find a home for them. Neither University of Toronto nor York University had any interest in the series. We had a few law firms respond to our listserv postings but by and large it became evident that we would have to find a different kind of home for the books.

We discovered two entities which were willing to take our books. The Canadian Book Exchange in Ottawa was prepared to accept as many boxes as we were willing to ship them at our expense. The Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada was prepared to accept a select grouping of the books and would provide us with a tax receipt for the cost of the shipment. Ultimately we chose the latter organization and the books were shipped to the United Nations Court in Sierra Leone.

Bonnie Fish


  1. I wonder what will happen to organizations such as the United Nations Court in Sierra Leone when there are no more print copies to send them in this way. Will they find everything they need online and free? This underlines the importance of making sure that digital versions of the law don’t reside only in the grip of corporations.

  2. another possible destination for surplus legal books is the LLMC-digital initiative.

  3. We have been sending books to the National Libary of Canada Book Exchange for years, and have filled gaps in our collection by obtaining books from them as well. It is an invaluable service to libraries across the country.

    Thank you for these additional ideas. The law reporters in particular are becoming increasingly difficult to dispose of without resorting to the dumpster solution!

  4. I’m not exactly a needy case, but my copy of Olmsted’s wonderful collection of Privy Council cases on the BNA Act came from the Memorial University Library in St. John’s and the National Library of Ireland’s discard of Berle & Means came to me via that Book Exchange.
    Of course today, the other way to deal with surplus is through and watch your loved volumes make their way into the wider world.

  5. Hee hee. Can you imagine dropping off a whole multi-volume set of the Reports of Family Law (picking a random example) in a food court for someone to just happen upon? Or perhaps in my personal favourite Book Crossing drop-off point, the Starbucks at Yonge & Bloor in Toronto that was [sniff!] formerly Britnell’s bookstore. If we were lucky, it would be a future lawyer who would happen upon them!

    Hmmm….I wonder if these sorts of things would have any use in our high schools that have law-related courses????

  6. The centre had its $500,000 budget cut in last month’s federal budget.
    Library and Archives assistant deputy minister Doug Rimmer said the library recommended closing the centre as part of the Harper government’s cross-department “strategic” spending review.