Sunday, May 15, 2005

U Texas to Move 90K Books from Undergrad Lib for Info Commons

According to an article in The Ledger Online:

By mid-July, the university says, almost all of the library's 90,000 volumes will be dispersed to other university collections to clear space for a 24-hour electronic information commons, a fast-spreading phenomenon that is transforming research and study on campuses around the country.

"In this information-seeking America, I can't think of anyone who would elect to build a books-only library," said Fred Heath, vice provost of the University of Texas Libraries in Austin.
....

The trend is being driven, academicians and librarians say, by the dwindling need for undergraduate libraries, many of which were built when leading research libraries were reserved for graduate students and faculty. But those distinctions have largely crumbled, with research libraries throwing open their stacks, leaving undergraduate libraries as increasingly puny adjuncts with duplicate collections and shelves of light reading.

Mr. Heath said removal of the books had raised some eyebrows among the faculty and anxiety among the library staff. But he said the concerns were needless. "Books are the fundamental icon of intellectual efforts," he said, "the scholarly communication of our time."

So, Mr. Heath said, speaking of the library, "if you move it, there's a pang, a sense of loss." He added that the books were merely being moved within the university's library system, one of the nation's largest, home to some 8 million volumes and growing by 100,000 a year. Basic reference books like dictionaries and encyclopedias will remain.

The move, Mr. Heath said, would free about 6,000 square feet in the four-story Flawn Academic Center, which opened in 1963.

Students at Texas, interviewed as they studied or lounged at the library tables, said that they would welcome extra computer space and that they got most of their books anyway at the far larger Perry-CastaƱeda Library. But some said they liked the popular selection at the undergraduate library and feared the loss of a familiar and congenial space.

"Well, this is a library - it's supposed to have books in it," said Jessica Zaharias, a senior in business management. "You can't really replace books. There's plenty of libraries where they have study rooms. This is a nice place for students to come to. It's central in campus."

2 comments:

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