Purpose – The purpose of this study is to determine what proportion of books were checked out in an academic library over a 15‐year period and what pattern of use occurs over the years and among various subject groups and between purchased and donated books. Design/methodology/approach – Check‐out counts were obtained for each year over a 15‐year period and the results analysed by year, language, and Library of Congress classification. Findings – Book check‐outs rise each year during the first five to seven years of a book's arrival in an academic library and stabilise after that period. Books that are checked out in their first year tend to continue to be checked out, while books that are not checked out in the first or second year will still not be checked out after 15 years. While overall check‐outs are generally about 70 per cent, some subject areas show almost 100 per cent use. As expected, books acquired as direct purchases had more use than books acquired as gifts. Although a third of the collection has not circulated over a 15‐year period, it is believed that the lack of use does not necessarily imply a lack of value. Originality/value – This research covers a longer period than earlier studies and has been conducted in a non‐Western library using both Chinese and English texts. It supports the conclusion of earlier studies that approximately one‐third of book acquisitions will not be checked out and that circulation within the first few years of a book's acquisition is a good predictor of future circulation. For libraries considering remote storage, books not circulated within five to seven years could be removed to storage with little inconvenience to users.
Library Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 26, 2011
Keywords: Monographs; Usage statistics; Circulation studies; Chinese texts; English monographs; Subject usage; Hong Kong