Library facilities are closed until further notice except for quiet study space. For help with remote instruction and learning, see Teaching and Learning Continuity.

Print Books Update

Shifting focus from print to online access

In an effort to make better use of our limited space, staffing, and budget, the UCSF Library will be deaccessioning all duplicate print books in our regular, circulating collection and relocating our unique titles offsite for continued access and safekeeping. Our regular print book collection, comprised of approximately 160,137 volumes, has experienced very little growth over the last decade as the Library has prioritized providing stable, online access to health sciences resources. A full half of our current book collection was published in the 1970s or 1980s. Likewise, circulation of our print books has continued to drop significantly as our users have increasingly favored our remotely available ebooks. In 2019, only 313 books from our regular circulating collection (or 0.2%) were checked out by UCSF patrons. The vast majority of our print books are also held at other UC campuses or at a UC regional storage facility and are, therefore, considered duplicative.

The long term plan

This decision to greatly reduce UCSF Library’s print books is the next step in a larger, decade-old plan to provide more relevant services to our community. In 2010 and 2011, print books published prior to 1930 were moved offsite or donated for digitization. The reference collection was significantly downsized in 2013 through 2015 to create more study and meeting spaces. In 2018, we stopped the majority of print journal subscriptions in favor of expanding our online journal offerings. Since 2019, the Library has been relocating and deaccessioning our bound journal collection to make room for a larger archival vault. Continuing to move forward with this long term plan is especially imperative in light of the COVID-19 closure and the exceedingly high demand for remotely accessible resources. Reducing our print collection will enable us to focus our time and funds on the most current health sciences resources that can be accessed online regardless of our patrons’ physical location.

Maintaining access to print books

Once the Kalmanovitz Library at Parnassus Heights reopens, all print books that are no longer housed in the building can be requested for free through our existing request system if they are not available online. Relocating our unique holdings to offsite storage has the added benefit of ensuring that they will not be lost, stolen, or damaged in the future. Our commitment to preserving access to unique print resources can be seen in both our participation in shared print initiatives, such as the UC Journal Archiving Campaign Service (JACS) and the wider Western Regional Storage Trust (WEST), as well as our digitization partnerships with HathiTrust, Google Books, and the Internet Archive.


Moving forward, library staff will start this project by removing the smaller collection of regular circulating books on the 5th floor of the Kalmanovitz Library, which are mostly non-health sciences titles and have been checked out the least. When the building reopens, we will continue to provide print course reserves and resume purchasing requested print books that are not available as ebooks.

Please direct any questions or feedback to Sarah McClung, Head of Collection Development.

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