Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Urgent! Save OSUL from destruction!

A great library is not a building; it is not the director. It is the collection. It's the thousands of ideas and Aha! moments yet to come. And for students and faculty in the humanities and social sciences, monographs (aka books) are the basic equipment in their laboratories. This is a cause that conservatives, liberals, progressives, and tenured radicals can all link arms and yell, "Not on my watch, you won't destroy this library!"

OSU Libraries has been in renovation mode since before I retired in 2000. Now it's just about finished (main library on campus) and they are trashing the monograph collection because all the books won't fit (didn't anyone think to measure?). Not only will they not fit, the collection in the social sciences and humanities can't grow without pulling more of the collection for disposal. I can understand that Joe Schmo might think everything's on the internet, but Joe Branin (soon to leave for Saudi Arabia) and Jim Bracken and the sub-directors and the University Senate advisors? And why did President Gee cave on this--the big library supporter of the 1980s? What's up with that?

Read the statistics and weep. We can't save these, but there are more where they came from and they're going out the door!
    Monographs decommissioned by OSU

    January 2009 15,466
    February 2009 14,588
    March 2009 13,412
    April 2009 12,440

    1. These are monographs: the total does NOT include duplicates of journals withdrawn -- that would substantially increase the total
    2. These 55,906 monographs are not going into storage: they are being trashed or given away. We can never recover them.
In my academic library career (1965-68, 1978-83, 1986-2000), the most disagreeable task was "withdrawing" or "deacquisitioning," or "decommissioning" books and journals. It was like drowning puppies or kittens when I was in veterinary medicine. I used to print off the titles and give them to faculty so they could go to the book sale and purchase them. Journals weren't allowed to be sold--they had to be trashed, under cover of night so no one could see them. Yes, I the camp guard disobeyed and occasionally mentioned to a researcher that he might just select his favorite 1922 issue from the pile waiting for the executioner.

Today I'm going over to demonstrate on the campus in front of BRICKER HALL at noon with my home made signs "BUCKS for BOOKS" and "STOP the BOOK ABUSE," and my personal favorite attached to a hanger, "DON'T ABORT THE BOOKS."

Photos of the protest

Chronicle of Higher Education story

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

30-40 years ago librarians were urging the various faculties and depts to give up their office collections hidden away in various campus buildings and to buy into "bigger is better". They were right to be concerned that they would lose control.