One of the most frequent questions librarians get these days is "aren't books going to disappear?" The reality of the situation is that print media is going to be around for the foreseeable future. Some collections, like Reference, are beginning to shrink; others are still growing with community size.
Every community is different, and local use must determine the size of the collection.
The following describes the calculation for linear feet of shelving. For the square footage you will need, including aisles, etc., see a resource such as LLAMA's Building Blocks for Planning Functional Library Space, found on our resources list.
- Conduct a thorough weeding of the current collection
- Count the number of shelves occupied by each collection & note the width of each section. Standard steel library shelves are 36" or sometimes 30" wide.
- Use your Collection Development policy to determine projected growth (or shrinkage) rates in each section. If you don't have a formal Collection Development policy, examine circulation and use statistics on a section by section basis and look for trends. For example, many Reference collections are shrinking, being incorporated into the main nonfiction areas, or disappearing altogether. By contrast, DVD or videogame collections are still growing in many communities.
- Determine collection growth (or negative growth) for each sub-collection as an average percentage over the last five years.
- Do the math