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Public Libraries Prioritize Space Reclamation

ProQuest research shows digital options are boosting space creativity and flexibility

As libraries increasingly function as “community hubs,” public librarians are prioritizing space reclamation to create collaborative spaces, maker/hackerspaces and meeting rooms. That’s according to a new ProQuest survey of public librarians about their views, plans and strategies related to space reclamation.

A topic on the library radar for several years, space reclamation has now moved from discussion to priority – 59% of public library respondents to the ProQuest survey started to consider space reclamation a priority within the last two years. A ProQuest survey of academic librarians conducted in late 2016 found that about a third of those respondents had prioritized repurposing space for more than five years.

“The increasing options for digital alternatives to physical resources is enabling libraries of all kinds to be much more creative and flexible with their space,” said Jim Holmes, ProQuest Senior Vice President, Global Sales, Marketing and Customer Experience. “Space reclamation is on the front burner for most libraries.” 

The public library survey findings highlight common strategies being used to repurpose space: 65% of respondents are weeding historical periodicals and 47% are replacing print with ebooks.

ProQuest is responding to the trend with new services that enable libraries to free shelf-space without reducing the size or scope of their collections. For example, its Assessment Team works with libraries who are weeding printed materials, identifying comprehensive digital replacements and recommending items that should be available in both print and digital format. The team provides libraries with a complimentary detailed report customized to their collection, user needs and budget. The report even recommends the best acquisition formats to reduce budget impact.

“With the largest curated collection of e content and expertise in digitization, ProQuest is uniquely suited to help libraries get the most from their physical environment,” said Mr. Holmes. “We’re eager to help transform spaces into dynamic tools for achieving library missions.”

To learn more about how libraries are getting more from their physical spaces, read ProQuest’s white papers on Public Library Space Reclamation and Academic Library Space Reclamation.