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  1. 1. The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at BUDGETING FOR LIBRARIES24,3 Free electronic books and weeding Kirstin Steele160 Daniel Library, The Citadel, Charleston, South Carolina, USAReceived 7 July 2011 Abstract Purpose – The purpose is to explore using databases of freely available electronic books as part of a library’s collection. Design/methodology/approach – The paper considered whether expensive discovery services, an OCLC product, or an open source product would be practical alternatives to the current labor-intensive system used. Findings – An open source product introduced in 2010 called GIST Gift and Deselection Manager (GDM) appears to fit the author’s needs nearly exactly. Research limitations/implications – Since earlier Getting It System Toolkit (GIST) workflow products have a proven track record, the author would expect library students and practitioners to also experiment with the Gift and Deselection Manager. Practical implications – All can start using GDM anytime when they are ready, without spending any money. Social implications – The paper highlights an open source workflow option. Originality/value – The paper notes that the Gift and Deselection Manager was released on August 16, 2010, an event of which some library professionals might not be aware. Keywords Electronic books, E-books, Weeding, Open source, Donations Paper type Viewpoint Within the practice of using electronic materials to purchase space is the hope of getting shelf space for free. I am convinced that a sizable percentage of our library’s books are out of copyright and included in their entirety online in publicly available collections. Even if one did not use a book’s free online accessibility as the only reason to weed a title, such accessibility would make a decision easier. I see the possibility of job growth in this area, if there is a way to compare the books on our shelves with those available to the public. I use Google Books as a tool when one of our older books goes missing or disintegrates on the shelf. The idea of relying on Google’s copy of Curry’s Civil History of the Government of the Confederate States rather than paying $22 for a print-on-demand copy makes perfect sense to me. Downsides are that this process is currently only serendipitous and obviously time-consuming, and I do not always remember to check Google Books before ordering a replacement. OCLC’s WorldCat Collection Analysis is another way to compare our catalog to other libraries’ catalogs, and, I surmise, to existing collections of freely available e-books. I can think of additional ways I would love to utilize the Collection AnalysisThe Bottom Line: Managing Library product, but it is hard to justify spending four figures on what amounts to a “staffFinancesVol. 24 No. 3, 2011 only” subscription.pp. 160-161 Since our library and its budget are tiny, I have not seriously consideredq Emerald Group Publishing Limited0888-045X Innovative’s Encore, Serials Solution’s Summon, the EBSCO Discovery Service, or anyDOI 10.1108/08880451111185982 other discovery product. I have assumed such a purchase would merely add to the
  2. 2. library’s technology maintenance burden and be an additional, ongoing expense. I also Free electronichave failed to see the products’ value, supposing that big library vendors were justredecorating link resolvers or federated searching in order to prop up sales. Not books andeveryone is so cynical, of course. My colleagues are starting to think about these weedingservices and compare them, and of course, highly respectable libraries sign on withdiscovery services every day. One feature that has made me reconsider is the ability toinclude stable databases of free e-books, and the possibility of using those databases to 161weed books whose shelf space we could better utilize. Paying tens of thousands of dollars each year to buy a few thousand feet of shelfspace is, arguably, dubious use of a taxpayer’s dime, but if discovery services offerother quantifiable benefits, perhaps they are good investments. Many libraryprofessionals have written about the pros and cons of discovery products; I am startingto believe that saving instruction librarians’ time, improving patron good will, andexpanding use of existing resources will make it possible for a discover service to payfor itself. My own ability to use a discovery service to weed the collection would simplybe a further advantage. I imagine being able to run a report by author and title of what is available in fulltext in Google Books, the Hathi Trust, and other open access electronic book databases,and compare the list to what is on the shelf in our library. Ideally, such a report couldbe sorted by call number once an overlapping set was created. Like any pointy-hairedmanager, I assume the technology exists to make this possible without choking patronaccess to any of the databases. Unfortunately, I also assume that what I want is nothigh on the list of what a discovery service is designed for. So I nearly fell out of my chair when I discovered that the GIST Gift & DeselectionManager (GDM) does almost exactly what I want. While I missed an introductoryprogram at the November 2010 Charleston Conference, the slides are available Tim Bowersox,Cyril Oberlander, Kate Pitcher, and Mark Sullivan of the State University of New York(SUNY) at Geneseo developed the open source product to check multiple databases atthe same time. It is intended to streamline gift book workflow and weeding procedures,and can even be used with ILLiad to help interlibrary loan patrons find free versions ofthe materials they are requesting. There are some space caveats (for example, GoogleBooks permits only 1000 records per day to be processed), I am not positive GDM cancompare multiple book titles at the same time, and the program looks complicated onscreen, but it is designed do to my job. I look forward to using GDM and to continue pruning our library’s collection. One ofthe things I envision using WorldCat Collection Analysis for is scanning publishers’backlists for low OCLC holdings, to most effectively use our library’s limited book budgetand also give something back to the interlibrary loan community on which our patronsrely. I am still working on a persuasive argument, since our entire book budget is onlymarginally greater than the cost of a Collection Analysis subscription. And, perhaps, Iwill leave the whole discovery service question to the public services librarians.Corresponding authorKirstin Steele can be contacted at: Kirstin.steele@citadel.eduTo purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight.comOr visit our web site for further details: