Area libraries sell surplus books to make room for more
BY SARA PLUMMER World Staff Writer
Monday, December 31, 2012
12/31/12 at 8:00 AM
The Tulsa City County Library system adds 175,000 to 200,000 items to its collection of 2.5 million items each year, which means roughly that many items are removed from shelves to make room.
"It's like with your closet. You buy a new blouse, you have to make room," said Gary Shaffer, the library's chief executive officer.
There are several criteria library staff use when determining whether an item should be removed from the shelves or considered surplus.
"Physical condition is considered, is it damaged, waterlogged, pages missing or marked on, making it unusable or unreadable," Shaffer said. "Another criteria is age of the information if nonfiction. Is the information out of date and inaccurate, particularly with medical, scientific or legal information, which should be up to date with new editions."
In other areas such as literature, history, religion, arts and humanities, the age of the book or item isn't as critical and it can be kept in the collection longer.
Larger branches such as Central or regional libraries have more space and feature more in-depth collections, meaning their criteria when it comes to taking books out of circulation may vary from smaller branches, he said.
"This process is ongoing and commonplace in every library. As materials are returned, staff may withdraw it based on physical condition," Shaffer said. "Staff may also schedule specific times in which they've decided to examine shelves for out-of-date materials, have plans to relocate parts of the collection to a different area of the library, find the shelves too crowded or overstocked in a subject area."
Some of the books, DVDs and CDs that are taken out of circulation, as well as some of the items that are donated to the library, are put into a book sale area in about half of the branches.
The books not sold in the book sale or that are out of date are collected and stored until there is a large enough number to ship to a recycling company. In the past, those books were sold to a surplus book dealer, and the library staff are in the process of contracting with another surplus dealer in the Tulsa area, Shaffer said
"We're in talks and it's looking favorable," he said.
In the interim, TCCL will likely begin sending surplus books to the company Better World Books, which sells donated library books online and gives part of its proceeds to nonprofit literacy organizations, Shaffer said.
"Damaged books are recycled automatically. Medical books that are more than five years old, we don't want those out in the donated books," he said.
Shaffer said other library systems have asked for donations, and TCCL has been able to help other public libraries, as well as school and prison libraries, if they are able to pick up items, but the request isn't frequent.
"We do not have the manpower to sort and deliver across the state. The receiving library must repackage and relabel materials to their own standards," he said. "Many of them don't have the resources to do this. Even if an item cost a library nothing to obtain, there are processing and shipping costs as well to consider before deciding to add it to the library collection."
Tulsa City County Library branches with book sale sites:
*Central Library's book sale area closed this month ahead of the renovation project scheduled to begin this spring
- Broken Arrow, 300 W. Broadway Ave., Broken Arrow
- Brookside, 1207 E. 45th Place
- Hardesty Regional, 8316 E. 93rd St.
- Herman and Kate Kaiser, 5202 S. Hudson Ave., Suite B
- Martin Regional, 2601 S. Garnett Road
- Nathan Hale, 6038 E. 23rd St.
- Owasso, 103 W. Broadway, Owasso
- Pratt, 3219 S. 113th West Ave., Sand Springs
- Schusterman-Benson, 3333 E. 32nd Place
- Skiatook, 316 E. Rogers, Skiatook
- South Broken Arrow, 3600 S. Chestnut Ave., Broken Arrow
- Zarrow Regional, 2224 W. 51st St.
Original Print Headline: Book sales aid library space
Sara Plummer 918-581-8465
Surplus library books are shelved in a book sale area at Hardesty Regional Library in Tulsa. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World