Library to make room for additional student seating by moving books

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    Moving a million books to an off-campus storage facility is one phase in a plan that is meant to satisfy the student need for more seating in the library, said June Koelker, the dean of the library.

    During the Library of Tomorrow Town Hall Meeting on Monday, Koelker said most libraries at undergraduate institutions are able to provide seats for 20 to 30 percent of their student body. Mary Couts Burnett Library is able to seat around 10 percent.

    “That’s counting everything but the toilets,” Koelker said.

    The meeting to discuss the reorganization of space and the addition of more non-traditional learning facilities for the library gave faculty and staff a chance to voice their opinion.

    After a slideshow presentation of the plans for the library, Koelker opened the floor for questions and comments from the audience.

    “Don’t take away my books,” said a person in the audience.

    But Koelker said because the library is landlocked, there are not many options when it comes to providing more study spaces.

    “When the students want to use the library, that’s a good thing,” Koelker said. “When they can’t find a place to sit down, that’s not good.”

    Freshman biology major Laila Abdeljalil said she thinks students would value the space for studying over the shelves of books.

    “I think they are needed,” Abdeljalil said. “We should have them and just store them somewhere else so we have an open place for studying but have the books somewhere else for the people that need them.”

    Koelker said the books that stay in the library will be stored in compact shelving to create more space.

    She said the books off campus will be stored in high-density shelving and will be organized by size instead of subject matter.

    The director of library administrative services James Lutz said for the past ten years, the library has already had to move some books off campus.

    “We’re just having to scale this up tremendously in order to get our square footage,” Lutz said at the meeting.

    He said about two-thirds of the books would be moved off campus.

    Others in the audience at the town hall meeting said the library is where books should be kept and that there are other places around campus where students can do school work.

    But junior supply chain management and business information systems double major Brett Battles said he uses the library the interact with classmates for group projects or to study.

    “I think it has changed from a place to come read and check out books and do research to more of a place where you meet with people to study in a group or do group projects or study by yourself,” Battles said.

    Koelker said the books to be stored off campus will be chosen according to statistics to determine which books are used least often.

    Lutz said once the system is set up, they will work will adapt to student needs.

    “If we find that we’re running back and forth pulling the same material day after day, then we’re going to bring it back and put it into the on-sight location,” he said.

    Lutz said storage facility also protects the books, so they will be around for years to come.

    “These are not your collections,” Lutz said, pointing to the audience. “These are all of our collections, and they’re going to be around for a very long time if we’re doing our jobs right.”

    Koelker said the meeting was the beginning of a conversation in which she wants to get as much input as possible.

    “I am trying to convey a willingness to integrate different points of view and different needs into the planning,” she said.