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Faculty Support: Looking at Library Research Through a 5 Year Window


What happens if students are not allowed to use sources older than 5 years?

Occasionally students tell us that their instructor will not accept library materials with a copyright date older than five years. Usually this is in a major where currency is very important and old information can be dated, wrong, or even dangerous if you are talking about something like medicine.

But what are the consequences?

  • Limiting use to the last 5 years excludes 95% of the collection.
  • Buying books of various copyright dates less than five years old means that some of those titles will have a shelf life of only one year - not a good investment!
  • You cannot broaden or deepen your collection if it has a shelf life of five or fewer years.
  • Our budget is insufficient to replace a collection with a rolling five year limit.
  • In some cases there will not be a title less than five years old.
  • The five year window excludes classics.

While excluding articles more than five year old is a doable proposition, it works badly with books.