University libraries to sell 15,000 volumes

By Margaret Ryznar

Looking to bring home part of the Reg? The University of Chicago libraries are holding a massive book sale featuring more than 15,000 books. Beginning October 8 and ending October 13, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. daily, the public will be able to purchase old U of C library books from a room on the first floor of the Regenstein Library. This is the first of two major book sales scheduled for this year; the second one will begin April 8.

Most of the sale’s books are either duplicates or discarded volumes the libraries no longer need.

Although this year there will be two book sales total, sales are not as frequent every year. This year, though, the librarians found an ideal space in which to hold the sale: a room on the first floor of the Regenstein Library at the west end of the outer library. This room is not only large enough to hold shelves of sorted books, but is tucked away from the main parts of the library so as to not disturb library patrons.

“Library sales have been held over the years on an intermittent basis. The last sale was held about three years ago,” said Gloria Hamilton, acquisitions librarian.

Although infrequent, library book sales are essential to the health and growth of the library collection. The Regenstein Library alone boasts 6.7 million volumes, and because space is limited and money is needed to add newer volumes to the library, book sales are an important factor in keeping the library collections current.

The preparation process for a university library book sale is intensive. “Library staff searched all the materials in the Horizon database to make sure they were not duplicates and wanted in the collection. Library staff and volunteers from the Library Society and members of the development office sorted the materials by broad categories,” Hamilton said.

Duplicates are those books of which the library possesses too many copies compared with demand. Often such books have been donated to the library by a member of the community. If too many copies of a book exist for the demand, than the duplicates are put up for sale to generate revenues for the library system.

Discarded volumes are those which have received very little interest from the university community. A field specialist or bibliographer may deem certain books as not vital to the university’s research library system and those books also are put up for sale.

The 15,000 volumes featured during this sale are from all of the University’s libraries, and the revenue acquired will benefit the entire system. “Income is spent for the libraries in general and is not earmarked for a specific part of the collection,” Hamilton said.

The profit from the last sale totaled approximately $33,000. Most of this profit is used to acquire newly requested materials. Every member of the university community is welcome to submit a suggestion concerning the books that the university libraries purchase, and many of these requests are fulfilled using the money generated by book sales.

During this sale, prices of hardback books started at $20 and of paperbacks at $10. However, each day the prices are drastically reduced to encourage buyers. The last day of the sale, Saturday, all materials are free. Books are conveniently shelved according to subject matter, such as social sciences and physical sciences. Miscellaneous materials such as maps are also for sale. The sale ends Saturday, October 13.