Update on biological sciences library move and culling of books

April 24, 2014

The Library has heard the message from UNH faculty, students, and alumni loud and clear. As of now, the culling of books at Dimond Library is put on hold. No additional books will be placed in the recycling bin and none will be moved off campus until we can consult further and come to a satisfactory resolution.

From the Campus Journal:

A review of the collection became urgent with the recent decision to locate the Biological Sciences Library from Kendall Hall to Dimond Library this summer. In an effort to have the least impact on students preparing for finals and faculty returning to campus in August for the fall semester, the process needed to move quickly.

"In our rush to accommodate the project and be sensitive to the needs of our users at both ends of the process we lost the very important consultation piece,” said Interim Library Dean Annie Donahue. “The books were never going to be thrown away but rather recycled.”

…The books that have been removed from the library have been protected from the elements. The library leadership is talking with the provost’s office, faculty, and students as well as the campus facilities office about how best to move forward. No decisions have been made, but could include finding additional storage, a book fair, and other recycling options.

We are currently investigating options for additional storage on campus.

Library liaisons, faculty librarians who work with their counterparts in academic departments, are responsible for maintaining collections, including making decisions to deselect books. They make these decisions on the basis of:

  • Date of publication and currency
  • In-house usage and circulation
  • Condition of the material
  • Value to the research discipline
  • Availability of materials at other libraries (including the Boston Library Consortium) and in alternate formats

Weeding of library collections is a best practice supported by the American Library Association and part of the professional responsibilities of librarians.

The recent need arose due to the imminent relocation of the Biological Sciences Library collection into Dimond Library. In addition, the state fire marshal has indicated Dimond Library cannot use some of our top shelves due to their proximity to sprinklers. In order to accommodate this, all collections, including the biological sciences collection, were subject to review for weeding.

The Biological Sciences Library move will still occur over the summer. In order to make up for the loss of seating, we are adding public computers and 30 additional seats to Dimond Library.

We recognize there was insufficient communication and consultation with the community regarding this process. As Provost Lisa MacFarlane put it, "We all have a strong emotional connection to physical books, and to the scholarship, historical perspective, and creative work they contain." They are, for us and for you, symbolic of the mission of the University and our hard won knowledge.

In the coming days, we will be reaching out to campus constituencies to better understand and address your concerns.

Update, April 25

Based on the overwhelming response to the Library’s culling project, the following short term approach has been established to respond to the immediate concerns raised by faculty, students, alumni and community members earlier this week.

Philosophy books that were pulled and placed on carts for removal are being re-shelved. Other books identified for removal will go to storage shelves in Dimond but will still be available for circulation. Art history and education books will be removed from the container to avoid being further compromised while they are awaiting review by teaching faculty.

The Biological Science integration will continue. Dimond Level 2 materials and science resources on Level 5 (Q-Z) are being inventoried to allow integration of materials from Kendall Hall in June. Campus Planning is working with Library to identify longer-term on-campus storage options for Library materials. A plan and timeline to review the collection with teaching faculty colleagues is being developed and will be shared as soon as it is available.

Library faculty will work with department representatives to ensure teaching faculty voices are heard before materials are culled. Library Administration will work with students, alumni and community members to find more thoughtful and sustainable ways to remove the remaining unwanted materials from the Library.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Val Harper, Faculty Fellow for Project Management and Space Utilization, or Tracey Lauder, Assistant Dean for Library Administration.