By Ojie Sarmiento
PCIJ Librarian

THEY CAME, they saw, they took away – a lot, and we all can’t be happier.

For two days last month, PCIJ held a “Free Book Program” as part as of its library’s deselection process. As a result, more than 500 out of the PCIJ Library’s collection are now in the hands of new and, we hope, pleased owners.

PCIJ had kept and retained almost all of the books it acquired in the 25 years of its existence. But times change and so do the needs of any institution. For the PCIJ Library to keep up with the changing needs of its parent institution, it must have a collection that contains the most relevant and timely materials.

And so two months before what was to be its grand book giveaway, the library began deselecting or picking out books that were no longer used by PCIJ. The yield included publications as old as more than half a century and those released as late as five years ago.

Taking a cue from S. R. Ranganathan’s “Five Laws of Library Science,” the library then decided to give the deselected books for free to individuals and organizations who would have more use for them. After all, Ranganathan’s first law says: “Books are for use.”

Last August 6 and 7, at least 31 people — researchers, reporters, producers, content managers, and teachers (some from as far as Bukidnon) — visited the PCIJ Library and were able to choose from the books that had subjects ranging from the environment to women and children, to human rights and literature. Each was allowed to select as many titles as he or she wanted; one even had a total haul of 40 tomes. Ranganathan’s laws number two and three: “Every reader his (her) book” and “Every book its reader” – check.

The deselection and subsequent book giveaway, however, is expected to lead to the fulfillment of Ranganathan’s fourth law: “Save time for the reader.” Not only will the new owners of the deselected books now have the material they probably need at arm’s length, PCIJ’s staff and library patrons also benefit from a trimmer collection to forage through.

Indeed, as Ranganathan said, “The library is a living organism.” Pruning now and then helps revitalize any collection and promotes growth in the right direction.

The PCIJ Library now has a selection of more than 1,000 titles and 1,100 volumes of books; asset records (Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth) of about 1,300 government officials; budget documents from 2000 to 2014; datasets on national and congressional elections from 1998 to 2013; and files of the Securities and Exchange Commission on 454 corporate entities.

Over 100 gigabytes of data are now housed in the PCIJ archives. At least 42.8 gigabytes are processed files.

The PCIJ Library is currently open to researchers and students on a per appointment basis, but will have regular hours for researchers by the start of 2015.

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