Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The joy of having print books around you in a library

My academic library has been going through a renovation for over a year, and it continues through March of 2013. During that time, about 98% of the collection had been moved to storage.  (We have a very small reference collection in print.) Patrons can request materials, and they will be delivered within 2 hours.  It really is amazing, but that is besides the point.

During the middle of the renovation, the administration of the university tried to make sure that most (about 80%) of the collection was held off site even after the renovation was done.  They see the library as a cost center instead of as a source of inspiration.  The faculty and students rebelled.  The librarians documented multiple reasons why more of the collection needed to be held on site.  Much of the reasoning was browsability.  But, it was difficult to find articles that documented qualitative research.  (I think we did find some.) These next two blog posts could have been useful at the time, but they were not published when we needed them.  Thanks Barbara and Bohyun.

I recently visited the Brooklyn College Library for the STELLA Unconference, and I was able to simply browse the stacks.  (Yeah, I know, the ebooks are not there...)  I found a book concerning the development of the Hubble Space Telescope simply by browsing the print collection. (The book is also online.) It would have been difficult for me to find this book using the catalog, because the Space Telescope was not named after Edwin Hubble yet.  It was simply known as the Space Telescope in the mid 1970's.  I was able to skim the book looking for a specific author, but he was not there.  I really miss not having a big collection of books around me.  If only the administrators cherished the book collection the same way the students and faculty do.

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