Proposed next steps

The proposed strategy is to withdraw from the collection some journal and government publication material that is available online; foreign language journal material that has ceased acquisition; obsolete material; and duplicate copies of books where these are not warranted. Additionally, the proposal is to begin a strategy to move some low-use books to off-site store, with selected foreign language works in subjects other than literature, history and art identified as a particularly low-use category with which to start.

Some drop-in sessions were held with members in January which yielded very useful feedback on the proposals, and brought many other points forward for discussion. There will be further engagement with members as the Library continues to work through its proposals, all of which are given extremely careful thought.

The following steps are proposed in our on-going collection management work:

  • Foreign government publications (primarily Indian and US (75 linear metres each) plus assorted short amounts of others) – no objections were raised to their removal in the drop-in sessions with members, and no reason for these to be stored off-site was raised.

Action: Subject to some final checking, move forward with removal. 

  • Duplicate copies of books – all members saw sense in de-duplicating multiple copies of books and no objections were raised.

Action: Progress with the removal of duplicate copies of books.

  • Bibliography – there was useful discussion over the reference use of this collection, with some concerns raised that our usage indicators wouldn’t pick this up. There was also some concern expressed over the markings-up in place in this collection.

Action: Engage further with members to gain more views before deciding on a strategy for this collection.

  • Parliamentary papers – implement project to create an electronic listing of the indexes and postpone decision as to whether to move the collection off-site until investigative work can be carried out into their uniqueness in print from in the London area.

Action: carry out data entry work.

  • Short, incomplete journal holdings in all languages.

Action: Continue close investigation into these for content/relevance/reasons to keep;

  • Journal material available on JSTOR and other stable, robust subscriptions –

Action: Continue checks on other holdings and at-shelf work to identify journals with significant reliance on illustrations which may be inferior in the online version. In parallel, phase subject-based listings for members on our webpages of titles for removal and for retention off-site and seek feedback.

  • Books in foreign languages

Useful discussion was had around foreign language holdings. The Library proposed looking at books in foreign language where the language didn’t pertain to the content of the book, and members asked for a greater understanding of what is meant by these.

Additionally, members made further suggestions of their own relating to foreign language holdings, including:

  • Remove books in languages less used by members – Polish was given as an example – noting that less space will be gained through the removal of smaller collections;
  • Consider where works are held in English translations as well as the original, and usage is noticeably higher in translation;
  • Identify a greater range of examples of the ‘proposed’ books (i.e. books in French about the Russian revolution) to facilitate further discussion;
  • Remove content with Fraktur/Gothic script - but engaging with members for whom this affects outside of German Lit, e.g. philosophy; art theory;

Further discussion will be held with members later in 2020 about this area (see also the section on this in the summary of the drop-in sessions [insert link].)

Action: Collections Group to arrange further drop-ins on this theme for Summer or early Autumn 2020.

  • Different editions:

Members also suggested that the Library carries out work on its holdings of different editions – i.e. move away from the Library’s traditional approach of holding different editions due to different prefaces, forewords, etc and reduce on-site holdings of multiple editions, particularly where these are extensive in authors such as Dickens and Shakespeare;

Action: Collections Group to investigate this further.

-Matthew Brooke, March 2020

Collection management update 

December 2020

In 2019 the Library drew members’ attention to the new ‘Collection Capacity Management Strategy’, which is designed to better manage the space available within the Library to house our historic book collection and to allow the continued growth of new publications. As the next phase of this strategy, in the New Year we will move a selection of the periodicals held in the basement to off-site store. All titles to be moved are duplicated online and are available to members, either through the Library's subscriptions, such as JSTOR, or on open access websites, including Gallica and Biodiversity Heritage Library. Members will also be able to request print volumes of these periodicals through Catalyst, and they will be retrieved from the offsite store with two working days' notice.  

 A number of journals that are available online but which we know are well used in print at the Library will be retained on-site. The list of journals proposed for removal to off-site store is here. If there are any specific titles that members wish to retain on-site, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Once the periodicals have been removed, a minor rearrangement of stock will be carried out and some additional temporary desk space will be made available whilst social distancing restrictions continue to reduce our available desks by a third.