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Evolving Access to Library Collections

Members of the UC Davis community have access to more than 50 million items through the University of California’s library collections, including items held here at UC Davis, at other UC campus libraries, at the UC’s two shared Regional Library Facilities (RLFs), and increasingly — as we seek to digitize versions of more of our print collections within the bounds of copyright law and fair use — digitally, as well.

Now that we have a single, systemwide library catalog in UC Library Search, members of the university community can locate those items wherever, and in whatever form, UC owns them. And that is becoming more important than ever as UC’s campus libraries, like all parts of the university, face growing space pressure on campus — and a corresponding need to be more innovative about how physical collections are housed and shared.

Our local collections space has always been finite, and with the conversion of our Physical Sciences and Engineering and Carlson Health Sciences library buildings to other campus uses, the need for alternatives is especially pressing. To address that need, we are continuing to explore, together with our fellow UC campus libraries, a range of ways to facilitate more efficient sharing of our collections, both in print and digital form. (Learn more about why we digitize books.)

helllo world

Eerie Selections from the Archives

The end of October is here and we at Archives and Special Collections want to add to the Halloween spirit by featuring a few spooky selections from our rare book collection.

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Our approach

Since 2019, the UC Davis Library’s Collection Assessment Task Force has been reevaluating the criteria we use to identify materials that are strong candidates for offsite storage at UC’s Northern Regional Library Facility (NRLF). The RLFs house lower-use items that have ongoing research value so they can be shared by all members of the UC community, without multiple campuses needing to keep a copy on their shelves.

The task force’s potential criteria for items to be stored offsite include zero usage over a long period of time (e.g., 30 years), shifts in the educational mission of academic units, and areas where content (including older content) has moved to online formats like searchable databases.

These criteria will continue to inform our work to evaluate our library collections as a whole, particularly as we explore the best use of the space available at Shields Library in light of the changes to the Physical Sciences and Engineering and Carlson Health Sciences branch libraries. For example, in consultation with the Academic Senate Library Committee, the library has been using some of the task force’s best practices to identify older materials, particularly in the sciences and engineering, that can be moved out of Shields Library to create room for newer materials that have been transferred from the Carlson Health Sciences Library. Even though no major renovations of Shields Library are currently planned that would impact the amount of space available for collections, the amount of available space will always have its limits.

Progress to date

The pandemic had a serious impact on the library’s work to process both the collection moved out of the Physical Sciences and Engineering Library and the Carlson Health Sciences Library collection. Nevertheless, we have now finished transferring to Shields Library all of the materials from both branch libraries’ collections that were identified for retention on campus.

The final step will be to complete the transfer of materials to the NRLF that were identified for offsite storage. This work is progressing more slowly, as the NRLF itself was heavily impacted by the pandemic and by a wave of retirements among its workforce. In the meantime, materials that will ultimately be sent there are available via request from the library catalog while they are in storage on campus.

Throughout the process, a top priority is to ensure that the library catalog accurately reflects how to access all materials, including materials in storage, which can be paged for pickup at Shields Library or shipped to your off-campus location using the request feature in the catalog. Materials stored at NRLF can typically be delivered to campus within two business days.

With the entire UC library collection now searchable in one place, and increasing efficiencies in shipping, scanning and digitization of print materials, students and researchers are less constrained than ever before by where at UC a book is physically shelved — whether at UCLA, Berkeley, one of the shared library facilities, or right here in Davis. Wherever it is, we’ll get you what you need.