collection management policy re: duplicates of "rare" books

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    • #132326
      Charlene Martin

      Are there any collections managers/archivists here that also manage a related library collection? I am sorting out books that were jumbled into my archive collection into a general reference collection (non-circulating) and a rare books collection  I have never established a collections management policy for a library before, and I especially wonder about retaining more than (2) copies of a rare book. Also, the books I am referring to were published in 1927 and 1943, and I have noticed that these dates aren’t often criteria for “rare” in the collections management policies I have reviewed. I used WorldCat to determine that there are 127 holdings of one book, 27, for another, and 10 for the last. I think that 127 copies belies any definition of “rare”, but I wonder about the other 2 – maybe I should keep more than (2) copies? I already have the books, so it is not a question of acquiring more, it’s about whether or not I should deacession/withdraw the extra copies. I have already selected based on marginalia/historical value and and condition, etc.

      Thank you for your help with this!

    • #132331
      Leslie Wyman

      We have many “rare” books, too – not really rare, but instead out-of-print historical reference/memories/photo books by local authors.  We are currently keeping all the duplicates (sometimes up to four copies!) in a locked cabinet in our collections storeroom, since the copies out in our research library are in use constantly.  As they wear out, we then have more on hand to replace them.  We also, unfortunately, have had a couple “walk” despite our efforts at keeping a vigilant eye, and have been thrilled to have the extra(s) on hand to keep our library stocked.

    • #132330

      Charlene – It sounds to me me like you’ve already gotten to the point  where you can look at each of the titles as indvidual cases. I’m not sure if it falls under your scope of “marginalia/historical value” but I would also look at the importance of the book to your institution’s scope. Are they like the ones Leslie mentions, in which they are important locally/ to your institution’s scope , and therefor would be used more often?

      And although 1927-1943 doesn’t really fit the criteria for rare books in most collections, if a book is obscure and may only be of interest to certain population, it is more likely than not, that other institutions would be culling them (I’m not sure if this is the appropriate term here) from their shelves.

      My personal opinion is that if you have the room, you should keep the extras, especially if the content matter is relevant. You may want to keep copies in both the “rare books” and your reference collection. (I am assuming here that “rare books” are going to be treated more like artifacts and less like regularly used reference books)

    • #132329

      I agree with Abigail.  I don’t think anyone other than people like us see the value of many things.  It is up to us to hold onto materials that others would toss.  Keeping 2 and storing them separately should be your goal.

    • #132328
      Ron Kley

      I’ve been pleasantly surprised over the past year or so to discover the number of  truly rare books that are available as modestly priced reprints. Such reprints can help to minimize wear and tear on originals, since the informational content is identical to the original. There may be some research purposes for which access to the original is imperative…but not many.

      The existence of such reprints may provide a pragnmatic alternative to maintaining copies “in depth”  or original publications that might consume more space and care than they deserve. In many instances I think I might recommend that an institution deaccession and sell the “nth” copy of an historically significant book, and use a portion of the proceeds to acquire an “expendable” reprint. The deaccessioned original is apt to find its way into the hands of a bibliophile who will appreciate and care for it better than an institutional holder of multiple duplicate copies.

    • #132327

      We are a small liberal arts college. The  library has been building its special collections for over 100 years with the bulk of the collections being rare books or collections comprised of books.  In the 20th century, it was a regular practice to  acquire, by purchase or donation, multiple copies of a work, particularly fine press, for different named collections. During the past two years we have been assessing the holdings and refocussing the collection scope with an eye to downsizing while serving our core constituency.

      De-duping is one of our policies.  Although it may take some thought to select which individual copy to retain, we feel it is worth it.  Disposition will vary, items may be traded, sold or donated.

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