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Thursday, November 6 • 6:00pm - 6:45pm
Staying Dry - Serials Deselection at a Comprehensive Cancer Care Research Library

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On October 17, 2013, a large section of HVAC duct work dislodged from its ties in the ceiling above shelves of bound print serials in the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Research Medical Library. Upon falling, the duct work struck and damaged the pipes of the fire suppression system and released hundreds of gallons of water onto the serials below for 8 minutes. Response to the disaster was swift, involving all library staff members, several MD Anderson entities from various departments, and outside contractors. What started out as disaster recovery, quickly evolved into a need to assess our print serials collection in a library serving a cancer hospital, its clinicians, and its researchers.

The Research Medical Library has moved forward in tandem with developing technologies over the years, adopting large collections of digital resources to serve the information needs of its users, while still maintaining a physical library space and 23 shelves of bound print serials. Before the water event, discussion had already begun on the need to analyze our tangible volumes, in light of the decentralized use of the library’s tools. Ideas had been debated on what the physical library could be without the burden of those largely unused volumes, and this incident accelerated those debates.

This discussion looks at the unique steps of deselection encountered at the Research Medical Library following a situation that coerced us into action. From the attempts to develop a simple logic, to romanticized ideals of library collections, and to the self-reflection of what it means to be an oncology library, it is still not a simple task to reduce print collections in the digital age, and our individuality compounded that complexity. However, the work needed to be completed, and it needed to be a fair and inclusive process.


Allen Lopez

Collections Librarian, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center
I was born and raised in Houston, TX, and I've been lucky enough to remain a part of Houston's professional library culture. Becoming a medical librarian was a happy accident, and I hope to be a part of this career track for a very long time. I'm interested in creating efficient information... Read More →

Thursday November 6, 2014 6:00pm - 6:45pm EST
Cypress Grand Ballroom, Courtyard Marriott 125 Calhoun Street, Charleston, SC 29401