On looking more closely at the textbook collection of each laboratory, there might be a couple that are up to date, then the rest will undoubtedly be of varying ages with a few of antique value.
So how old does a textbook have to be before it loses it’s usefulness? Well, like people they all age at different rates. It depends to some extent on what has changed with regards to the topic matter. You might find a book on syphilis is still useful 10-15 years after publication, whereas a book on Hepatitis C treatment would be almost useless only 5 years from the date of issue due to the rapid changes in this area..
In general most of us still like paper textbooks because it is what we were brought up with. It is how we learnt. However I am concerned that by referring to out of date textbooks in the laboratory, we are not doing ourselves or the patients any favours.
I still have a few paper textbooks on my shelves (It makes vistors believe I am a microbiologist!). However I try and force myself not to use them as they are all years out of date.
I would encourage laboratories to move towards online texts (even then it is still important to check the publication date) and to clear those shelves, maybe apart from the antique textbooks which can be put behind lock and key for the safety of both the book and the user…