Managing our Physical Collections

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is proud to have the 11th largest research collection in North America. Our library collections have over 8 million volumes spread over 125 miles of shelving in multiple campus buildings. Responding to teaching and research needs, both current and those of the future, we continue to develop and grow our collections, adding over a mile of print material per year on average. While our users increasingly access our content online and while we are challenged by competing priorities for campus spaces, the Libraries are firmly committed to retaining and curating unique content, regardless of format. Furthermore, we recognize and acknowledge our role as stewards long into the future.

We are in the process of developing a unified plan to best address our opportunities for retaining materials and our challenges for space. Strategies include reducing redundancy and duplicative materials across our campus libraries; rearticulating and supporting the immediate needs for browseable physical collections; creating efficiencies for quick retrieval and delivery of material; and partnering with other libraries to insure the long-term availability and preservation of print materials. The UW-Madison Libraries Campus Collections Plan further outlines the specifics of our commitment to our collections.

We recognize that some of our impending changes will alter long-established workflows and we fully expect them to change the look of many of our libraries. For example, journal content will increasingly be available online and entire floors of our libraries may be used in new and innovative ways (see, for example, the WisCEL project). We are constructing a new shelving facility in Verona and we are further building upon BTAA collaborations and other collaborations to safeguard materials. Throughout these changes, we want to be clear that we are not losing access to any unique content at this time. Familiar locations, formats and logistics may change but we are unwavering in our commitment to get content into the hands of students, teachers and researchers as quickly and effortlessly as possible.

Please do let us know your questions and concerns.