Projects prep library spaces for new University Park student, research services

Some underused and redundant collections to be deselected, others relocated to manage spaces and materials appropriately


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State University Libraries is preparing for its Engineering Library to move into the West 1 Building currently under construction. It also is planning to modify spaces in West Pattee Library. As part of the move and modifications that will provide additional capacity for student study areas and advanced research services, University Libraries faculty and staff are assessing, deselecting and relocating shelved collections. The project is expected to last through the end of 2022.

“Deselection is an important strategic tool of collection management,” said Faye A. Chadwell, dean of University Libraries and Scholarly Communications. “This common library practice is a way to manage our spaces so that, as we look ahead to the future, we are thinking strategically about how to repurpose spaces, especially in a more student-centered way.”

Usage data will inform decisions, focusing on duplicate and redundant versions of rarely used monograph titles as well as those journals and monographs also available digitally to consolidate space efficiently. Significant consideration is being given to long-term circulation patterns, uniqueness of an item and its long-term value for research. Duplicated titles that are heavily used or are part of University-wide or external collaborative programs will be retained.

Decisions also will be made within the context of the University Libraries’ general collection guidelines and strategies in keeping with its mission to sustain a rich resource of research materials to serve the entire University community. The review will be undertaken by subject-specialist librarians with liaison responsibilities across several University departments and campuses.

Engineering Library

The College of Engineering’s new West 1 Building, which broke ground this summer and is scheduled to be completed in 2023, will house the new Engineering Library location for the University Park campus, currently in Hammond Building. The new Engineering Library space will be smaller than its existing footprint, so shelved physical collections moved to West 1 Building will prioritize student textbooks and other course materials on reserve. While considering a decade of shelved titles’ longitudinal usage data as well as increased electronic access to journals and books, science and engineering librarians are working to assess and relocate materials as appropriate to shelf space available primarily among the Physical and Mathematical Sciences Library and Paterno Library.

“I’m excited for our library employees to be part of the new expansion on West campus, where we will still have delivery and pickup of library materials for student and faculty requests as well as high-demand textbooks,” said John Meier, head of STEM for Engagement and Outreach. Meier is leading a team of Libraries employees from multiple Penn State campuses for the Engineering Library move, including librarians with decades of experience with engineering collections.

West Pattee and Central Pattee Library

Pattee Library stacks are nearing capacity. To create flexibility to accommodate future collection growth and make room for new research services, materials in West Pattee Library and in Central Pattee Library will be assessed, deselected and relocated as appropriate in other areas of Pattee Library and Paterno Library. Similar to the Engineering Library’s assessment, the main criteria for deselection will be to identify older, duplicate materials held at Pattee Library. Duplicates are those items that may be at any another University Libraries location at University Park or a Commonwealth Campus or at an off-campus annex facility. Materials can be requested by users easily and promptly from all these locations.

“Our approach will be deliberative and aimed at preserving the integrity of our world-class holdings. Our librarians know the collection, and the needs of students and faculty will be at the forefront of our decision-making. Just as the Libraries carefully and thoughtfully selects materials to add to the collection, we will use that same approach in withdrawing them,” said Nonny Schlotzhauer, social sciences librarian for University Park libraries.

Following assessment, location moves and reshelving of retained materials, remaining deselected books will be given to Better World Books, where any qualifying titles not already held online by the nonprofit Internet Archive will be digitized and made freely available. Then, physical titles will be made available for purchase and proceeds given to other literacy-supporting organizations worldwide.

An FAQ page has been created to aid in addressing questions about the project. Subject librarians will be reaching out to departments with further information if they have not already done so. The University Libraries invites teaching faculty to work with their department liaisons and provide feedback on the deselection of material to John Meier, head of STEM for Engagement and Outreach, at, or Betsaida Reyes, head of Humanities and Social Sciences, at


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