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Going, going, gone... but not forgotten: lessons from a journal de-selection project

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Morgan, Peter 
Collins, Anne 



Cambridge University Medical Library has a strategy of migration from paper-based to e-resources. In 2007 it secured funding for a new IT study area, necessitating the removal of a substantial proportion of the printed journal collection. This paper deals with the process by which journals were proposed for removal, the issues that arose, and the outcomes.


(1) We targeted backsets of dead titles and monitored their in-library use, comparing the results with a similar review in 2000, to construct a list of low-use titles. (2) We checked these against electronic subscriptions and the holdings of other local libraries and created two lists: 444 unique titles for relocation to a dark archive, and 118 duplicated titles for disposal. (3) We conducted an extensive consultation exercise with our user community, using a web-based survey form to record their responses.


7,700 users were invited to contribute to the consultation, and we received comments from fewer than 2%. Half the respondents were historians who objected in principle to our relocation plans for unique titles. After further investigation of alternative locations we modified our proposals, redirecting 77 titles to an accessible store, while the remainder were dealt with as originally proposed.


• Preparing consultative lists of journals for disposal in a multi-library university is a complex and time-consuming task • A web-based survey is an effective consultation medium • Most medical library users accept the case for removing old printed journals • Historians have different requirements requiring different solutions



medical libraries, collection management, electronic journals, library user surveys

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10th International Congress on Medical Librarianship

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