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Wednesday, November 6 • 6:20pm - 7:00pm
S2-11 Parallel or Together?: Deduplicating a STEM research collection combined from two different sources (academic and government)

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The Wolbach Library serves two institutions at the Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts: the Harvard College Observatory and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. This unique bureaucratic setup has had an effect on library collection policy, as it was common practice for decades to acquire both a Harvard and Smithsonian copy of monographs, or even full runs of serials. Recent space constraints and changes in patron needs required a reevaluation of library usage; all the circulating collection would need to fit into a quarter of its original space to make room for study areas and offices. On top of that, no one had done a proper shelf read of the print collection since 1998, so any evaluation of our holdings would have to be done from scratch.

Given the nature of the Wolbach’s longtime parallel collections, the natural first step was deduplication. While it could not create the necessary shelf space by itself, deduplication established a workflow for the most important aspects of weeding: shelf reading, condition evaluation, deaccessioning, and processing for shipment. Starting with deduplication before making a full pass also served to tamp down anxiety among our patron community regarding the withdrawal of thousands of books from the shelves. We were able to clearly communicate the deselection criteria that will ultimately be applied to the entire collection, while guaranteeing that no title was being completely removed. Ultimately the most valuable part of the deduplication exercise was a renewed conversation about the future and value of our print collection in a modern research environment.


Eric Brownell

Acquisitions Librarian, John G. Wolbach Library, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Wednesday November 6, 2019 6:20pm - 7:00pm EST
Carolina Ballroom, Francis Marion Hotel

Attendees (5)