The Wicked Problem of Too Many Books | The Future Librarian |

Preserving collections is the mission of many academic libraries. That means keeping lots of books. But where to put them? That’s becoming controversial.


Academic librarians are running out of space for all these volumes; many libraries exhausted it years ago. The rarely used items in the collection make good candidates for relocation to remote shelving sites. It sounds like a reasonable solution – except that scholars, mostly in the humanities, really hate the idea. The biggest “we must move out books” controversy right now isn’t at an academic library, but one of the premier public research libraries in America – the central branch of the New York Public. Perhaps there are lessons academic librarians can take away from the Big Apple book battle that could help future off-site shelving projects gain better acceptance?


Steven Bell offers suggestions to ensure the success of an off-site shelving storage project here: