In 2009 the Library Council decided that the digital library should be the focal point of the University Library policy. Registered UAntwerp users have 24/7 access, anywhere in the world. It was also decided that a digital publication should be preferred over a paper one.
By committing to electronic publications the growth in the reading rooms and closed stacks is slowed down. Currently we have 55.7 km of books and journals on stack, in reading rooms and closed stacks both.
The paper books and journals are still significant. UAntwerp also invests in the Special Collections, containing works predating 1830. The analogue collection has not stopped growing, it is just expanding more slowly.
Depot Project Biomedical Journals
The efficient use of closed stack space is also considered at the Flemish level. The University Library participates in the Depot Project Biomedical Journals. All of the universities and the Institute of Tropical Medicine have access to the digital version of 2500 biomedical journals.
It was agreed that a paper copy of each of these journals would be kept at at least one location in Flanders. This way users can still obtain a copy should the electronic version be unavailable.
The 2500 titles were divided amongst the participating institutions, the so called depot custodians. They guarantee the storing of a number of titles and their availability for interlibrary loan.
This means that the other libraries can withdraw these titles from their collections, if they want to. Because of these arrangements libraries can free up and repurpose some of their closed stack space.