Monday, May 18, 2009

What Joe Branin said two years ago about Thompson Library

Last week I parked at the Vet Med campus and walked to Bricker Hall to participate in a tiny, and probably useless protest, about saving books. It was a beautiful day and I stopped to stare at and photograph the RPAC, a gimungous building with flashy, reflective pink glass and covered walkways devoted to recreation and physical fitness. Joe Branin, the director of OSUL was at the protest with his professional marketing hand-out and his dusted off fund raising bon mots used hundreds of times to sway the press and TV reporters. If ever a man could out-nuance President Obama on the golden rule and abortion, it would be Joe on the value and usefulness of the physical book, on a actual shelf, inside a bricks and mortar building. So I was interested to read what he said two years ago in an interview with Library Journal.
    [After a bit of wandering, the reporter finally gets to it] What’s it like running one of the nation’s top public university libraries while simultaneously tearing it down, setting up interim space and services, and managing one of the state’s largest construction projects? “I still spend most of my time directing the library system,” OSU director Joe Branin insists, giving his staff praise for their hard work. But let’s not mince words: this massive project will define Branin’s tenure at OSU, and he is clearly proud of and invested in it. “We expect the library to be a major gathering place for faculty and students, because of its architectural beauty but also its functionality as a learning and research center,” he says.

    “I’ll also continue looking for new ways we can reach out to the larger Ohio community, and make the Thompson a resource not just for the university but for learners and scholars around the state and the whole country.” Part of achieving that mission is not to be limited by space or formats. “Flexibility has been a key design principle for us,” Branin explains. “So we can modify the building as we see formats of information and use patterns change.” The new Thompson library, he stresses, will use space and technology together to offer new opportunities as well as preserving the best of traditional library service, including, of course, books. “Print resources will continue to be a significant presence, and special collections will be highlighted in ways that have never been possible.”
I've moved, withdrawn and disposed of thousands of books in my library career and I think I know how to measure and count; there's no way that a million + volumes are going back, nor is there room for growth without pulling out thousands more.

Notice, LJ never refers to OSUL as a "research library."

Joe's next and probably last job is to develop a completely digital library for the Saudis. Maybe by the time he's finished, Saudi women will be allowed to drive. After all, by the 1980s, most were allowed to attend school.

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