Stanford’s new Engineering Library is getting rid of 7/8 of its paper books in favor of e-book replacements, NPR reports. The change is due to a combination of engineering periodicals moving from print to digital editions and the library running out of room to store its collection.
To decide which 10,000 books made the cut, Stanford librarians checked check-out records to see which books were most frequently checked out. It turned out that the vast majority of the library’s books had not been checked out in five years.
The e-book replacements will also have a side benefit, given the rapidly-changing nature of the engineering field. By the time traditional textbooks come into print, they are often at least partly obsolete. This change will enable Stanford to keep its textbooks and examples more current, the dean of Stanford’s School of Engineering explains.
And other libraries may soon follow suit, both at Stanford and elsewhere. Stanford library director Michael Keller sees a trend at work in the way current students are interacting with libraries and technology.
"They write their papers online, and they read articles online, and many, many, many of them read chapters and books online," he says. "I can see in this population of students behaviors that clearly indicate where this is all going."
NPR reports that, while few libraries are getting rid of so many printed books, many American libraries are starting to shift funding away from paper books and toward electronic resources.
(Found via Gizmodo.)