Balancing Print and Electronic Collections in Public Libraries: Perspectives for a Changing World


  • Cassandra Larose School of Information Management, Faculty of Management, Dalhousie University


collection management, public libraries, ebooks, libraries


Public libraries are of vital importance to their communities, providing access to information, shelter, services, and serving as an anchor for economic and social growth. As public libraries adapt to an increasingly digital world, they must address the balance of print and electronic materials to ensure that users have access to what they want and need. While public libraries‘ print collections are decreasing at a slower rate than those of their academic counterparts, they are also facing increasing pressure to offer materials electronically. Public libraries must address challenges in tracking usage statistics as well as their users‘ attitudes towards ebooks and print materials. Resource issues must be addressed, including costs and staffing. An increased desire for flexible space within library branches may also be a consideration impacting print collections. In addressing issues of accessibility, both print and electronic materials may create barriers in some instances while increasing access in others. The closure of many public library spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has introduced new issues, including limitations to access of print materials, new ease of access to online materials, and additional resource limitations as libraries work with limited budgets and staff. While the shift to online services during the COVID-19 pandemic has likely sped up the transition to increasing availability of online resources in public libraries, an appetite for print materials remains.

Author Biography

Cassandra Larose, School of Information Management, Faculty of Management, Dalhousie University

Cassandra Larose is a part-time student in Dalhousie University‘s Master of Library and Information Studies program, expecting to graduate in April 2021. With previous experience as a legal clerk and working in academic program development and review, she currently works at the Dalhousie Libraries and hopes to work as a librarian in an academic library upon graduation. Originally from the Ottawa, Ontario area, Cassandra has called Halifax, Nova Scotia home for the last five years. Cassandra enjoys reading, writing, baking, fermentation, and telling people about her two cats.


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