The CEU Library donated thousands of books from its collection to more than 20 Hungarian institutions before it moved into its new premises in October 2016. In the two years leading up to the big move, library staff did the first-ever inventory of CEU’s entire collection and conducted a systematic review of holdings in order to deselect books, multimedia items, and short runs of journal back-files that were no longer needed for a variety of reasons. The goal was to achieve space savings, reduce the collections to allow room for growth, as well as to make the print collection more focused. Excellent homes were found for the books with the help of the Széchényi National Library (OSZK).
“Library books are meant to be used, and sharing collections is one of the hallmarks of libraries,” said Diane Geraci, director of the CEU Library. “A book on a library shelf reaches many people, where as a book in a private collection is often only used by one or two. This is why we focused on sharing our still valuable, but unused items, with our colleagues in other Hungarian libraries and schools.”
By focusing on reducing duplication – multiple copies, superseded editions -– and analyzing circulation and internal usage data retrieved from the library system, it was possible to remove 12,491 books and multimedia items from the CEU collection and find other good homes for those in good condition. Careful attention was also paid to retain volumes that were unique in Hungary or valuable in some way, even if they had not been used in 15 years.
The CEU Senate Library Committee reviewed the ground rules for the process, and faculty assisted, particularly in the areas of business, economics, legal studies, and mathematics.
Then came the difficult and gratifying part, according to Systems Librarian Zsuzsanna Antal, who managed the project, which involved many library staff. Antal published lists of the volumes CEU wanted to make available on the Excess Item Service site of the Széchényi National Library (OSZK) in order to offer the volumes to other Hungarian libraries.
The majority of the books were requested by the Széchényi National Library, ELTE University Library, Eötvös Library of the Institute of Literary Research of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Boronkay Secondary School (Vác), and the Research Library of the Ministry of Defense (MH Kiképzési és Doktrinális Központ).
Antal and Geraci agree that this is the kind of cooperation among libraries that enhances both the collections themselves as well as the experience of library users. They were very pleased to cooperate with their librarian colleagues in this way.
Other recipients included the libraries of the Faculty of Law of ELTE University, University of Physical Education, Institute of History (HAS), Bolyai Institute of Szeged University, National Library of Foreign Literature (OIK), Baptist Theological Academy, Geographical Institute (HAS), Library of the Faculty of Law and Political Sciences of the Karoli Gaspar University, Library of the Faculty of Law and Political Sciences of the Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Library of the John Paul II Primary and Secondary School, Library of the Budapest City Archive, Budapest History Museum, Institute of Philosophy (HAS), Library of Jewish Theological Seminary - University of Jewish Studies, Foundation of Political History, Library of Budapest Business School, Ludwig Museum, and Milestone Institute. Even several primary schools accepted Oxford dictionaries of which we had hundreds of copies sitting in a basement storage area.
The Széchényi National Library also requested items not only for its own collection, but also for Hungarian libraries outside the country.