Library collection spans centuries, thousands added each year

A page in the ‘Book of Hours’ is from the 15th century, and is the oldest item currently in the archives at the Jerome Library.

The library has roughly 515 books that were produced before 1800, said Libby Hertenstein, a catalog and metadata librarian at the University.

Hertenstein said many of the old books were donations to the library, and although they could buy books, they often do not.

“We are committed to building the collection, but we understand you can’t buy something just because it’s old,” she said.

If a very old text is purchased for the library it is because it is important to the curriculum or has an importance to the University, Hertenstein said.

There are also several Shakespeare folios that were produced in 1664 in London and a Ray Bradbury collection that are available for viewing.

As well as having a collection of old books, the library must order new books each year.

One of the ways it is decided which books will be purchased is through professors and a select group of librarians.

“A group of librarians called ‘selectors’ work with the different departments on campus to find out what the different departments need,” she said.

Students can also request to have books ordered in the library, and that is also taken into consideration by the library, said Sarah Bushong, the Dean for University Libraries.

When students request books to be purchased, the library will often see if the books are available in the OhioLink system before ordering.

“It’s not cost effective to duplicate over the state,” Bushong said.

Last year, the library purchased about 8,000 new books, before they began buying e-books they would buy near 16,000 per year, said Julie Rabine, the coordinator of acquisitions in catalog at the library.

Although the number of physical copies of books purchased has been decreasing throughout the years, Rabine said she thinks it will never reach a point where 100 percent of the books are e-books.

“A lot of historical materials aren’t available that way,” she said.

Bushong said during the 2011-2012 school year the library circulated almost 300,000 books. That number does not include the books that were not checked out from the library.

As well as purchasing books there does come a time when the library must sort through books and decide whether they want to sell, donate or recycle them.

“If a book has been on the shelves for eight to 10 years and it’s never been checked out, it will either be sent to the depository or it will be withdrawn,” Rabine said.

One program the library is paired with is called Better World Books. The library sends books from the company, and Better World Books sells the books to raise money. The library gets a portion of the money back, and some of the other money goes to an organization called Books for Africa, which raises money to get books sent to people in Africa.

Sometimes books that may not be used frequently, but could still potentially be useful, are sent to the depository located in Perrysburg.

“There are close to 800,000 items at the Perrysburg depository,” Bushong said.

The library will also occasionally make books available in the Friends of the Library book sale where select books are available for purchase.