Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Beat Up of the Week

Under the headline Books get the shove as university students prefer to do research online the SMH reports today on a process of culling books at the UNSW Library asserting:

The University of NSW is throwing away thousands of books and scholarly journals as part of a policy that critics say is turning its library into a Starbucks. Academics say complete journal collections, valuable books and newspapers dating to the 19th century are being thrown out to clear space for cafe-style lounges.

I suggest the author and the academics wake up and smell the roses. No library is collecting current issues of journals as on-line versions are more accessible and easier to store. Most journals have had their entire archive digitised as either part of their electronic publishing or as part of one of the major archiving projects (such as Jstor).

An electronic journal article gives you a pristine *.pdf, with no need to photocopy if you want to take it with you. You never suffer because the issue you are after has gone off for binding or is simply on a sorting shelf somewhere. You don;t ever have to face damaged or defaced pages.

Some books are also making their way to electronic form.

But libraries have always culled the book collection, though the University of Sydney tends to send a lot to offsite storage rather than dispose of them. I've previously bought books that were being culled from the Macquarie University collection.

And far be it from "cafe-style lounges" being created, if you've visited a University Library you will know that there is always a queue for the computer terminals (though increasingly the library resources are available off-site through your student log-in - but that doesn't work if you are just a visitor).

Of course, large libraries like the NLA and State Library make more efficient use of racking space by using stacks. Macquarie Uni is going one better with the implementation of a new fully automated stack.

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

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