Culling of Books at Dimond Library Put on Hold

Culling of Books at Dimond Library Put on Hold

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Proactive efforts to winnow collections and periodicals in Dimond Library have been temporarily halted in order to better involve the campus community in the process.

“We all have a strong emotional connection to physical books, and to the scholarship, historical perspective, and creative work they contain.  We are working closely with our colleagues in the library to create both a long-term proactive plan to steward and renew our collections, and a short-term solution that will acknowledge present campus concerns.  Our library faculty and staff work tirelessly to respond to user needs and concerns; time and resources are not always available for projects like regularly reviewing and proactively managing the library’s collection,” said Provost Lisa MacFarlane. “We will find a way to do that in a thoughtful way, and where appropriate, repurpose selected volumes equally thoughtfully.”

The winnowing of library collections is a best practice supported by the American Library Association.

A review of the collection became urgent with the recent decision to locate the Biological Sciences Library from Kendall Hall to Dimond Library this summer. In an effort to have the least impact on students preparing for finals and faculty returning to campus in August for the fall semester, the process needed to move quickly.

“In our rush to accommodate the project and be sensitive to the needs of our users at both ends of the process we lost the very important consultation piece,” said Interim Library Dean Annie Donahue. “The books were never going to be thrown away but rather recycled.”

At this time, it is believed approximately 35,000 volumes, less than 2 percent of the collection, need to be taken out of circulation, and even then the library will be above ideal capacity. Books should not be stored on the top shelves of the stacks in order to avoid interfering with the sprinkler system, per state fire code. Some books will still have to be laid flat to adhere to the code, even though it is not good for the bindings.

The books that have been removed from the library have been protected from the elements.  The library leadership is talking with the provost’s office, faculty, and students as well as the campus facilities office about how best to move forward. No decisions have been made, but could include finding additional storage, a book fair, and other recycling options.