Do y’all remember a few months ago when YHB wrote about our institution deprecating the role of libraries as Storage Centers for Printed or Recorded Material? The process has been going on; the Master Plan has been masterly; the architects have drawn up some tasty sketches of the Library of the Future.
Would any of y’all like to guess how much they will be cutting the open stacks? The space currently occupied by the Music Library is being taken away, so we are losing just over 10% of the square footage of the libraries just in that move. In addition, there is a need for group study space, individual study space, quiet study space and classroom space; evidently the library will provide. There will be some movement to compact (movable) stacks; currently we have one small room with movable stacks, which is accessible only to staff. The Library of the Future, I am given to understand, will have movable stacks open to students wandering through and getting themselves crushed to death. Which I’m in favor of, by the way. If the floors can hold the weight.
Anyway, anybody want to make a guess about the projected cuts to the collection? Take 100 as the base, in shelf-feet if you like, of our current open stacks. How big will our open stacks be? How big will the compact shelving be? How much will we deaccession? A guess?
Just to say—in a conversation with my Best Reader, when I was somewhat despondently wondering if anyone other than library staff would kick up a fuss if our collection were to be cut by X%, I used 25% as a figure of outrage. That is, in making up a number to potentially outrage the faculty, if outrage was going to be had, I went with 25%. That number was made up out of my head, based on the 10% decrease in the footprint, plus the initial memo which made clear that the institution did not view books, periodicals, scores and recordings as a priority over open space. I could have said 20%, I could have said 30%. I was just bullshitting. I’m giving that number just to say—your guess should be more than that.
Yes, more than that.
Also? That other guess you made? More than that.
In one projection, we would keep 30% of our open stacks, put another 30% onto movable shelves, and deaccession the remaining 40%. FORTY PERCENT. And that’s the good projection—the other is 25-25-50.
Oh, did I mention that is the baseline of our current collection? That assumes that we won’t be purchasing any new books between now and whenever the project is complete, say, five years from now. Which we will. So, we need to think about it as half or more of our current collection going away, with half of the remaining books going onto moveable shelves, where they will be used by only the most determined students.
And now, the one where your guess is as good as mine: what will the faculty say? Tho’ of course one couldn’t blame them if they view demands for 6/6 teaching loads to be a more direct attack on them than a library cut in half. Still, Obi-Wan, you are our only hope.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,