This story reminded me of the years of wild hedonism that defined my youth:
The Indiana University of Pennsylvania library says that about half of its 486,000 books haven’t been checked out in 20 years, so it’s going to get rid of them.
I spent *years* visiting the libraries of Iowa State University in Ames and the University of Colorado in Boulder, slowly and methodically scanning through the stacks of books in the science, engineering and aerospace sections. I found a *lot* of stuff (oddly, I didn’t seem to find a whole lot of parties, booze and women there, but oh well). The stuff I found formed the beginnings of my aerospace history collection… vast piles of photocopies made from books I’d pull off the shelves, go through page by page, copy what I wanted, then put back on the shelf. A minuscule percentage of what I found useful was actually checked out.
I understand that the engineering library at UC Boulder has removed the bulk of the books, moving them to an off-site location. Students can still access them… you simply need to put in a request for said books and they’ll show up some time later. That’s fine, *if* you know what book you want. But how much useful research has been done by simply browsing? How often does someone find something useful in the book *next* to the one they were specifically looking for?
The claim for the Indiana University of Pennsylvania library is that they are going to focus their cleanout on books that are available digitally. But how many books, periodicals, papers and such are available as scans that are just *horrible* in quality? The NASA Tech Report server is filled with old reports that were scanned by people who clearly thought that diagrams, photos and artwork were wastes of space, best reduced to 2-bit B&W images that if you squint real hard while at a great distance might vaguely resemble the ghost of the original.
If the library needs money, fine. Take if from the athletic program. Hell, cut the coaches salaries by ten percent, that alone should just about do the trick. Every year have an auction to sell off the naming rights for the next years football team. Charge double tuition for grievance studies courses. Open an on-campus liquor store and pot dispensary, all profits going to the library. Cut the pay of all Socialist teachers to minimum wage. There are better solutions than getting rid of books by the truckload.