Book burning in Sydney

The Fisher Library at the University of Sydney has received $27 million in Federal funding – and is using the money to get rid of their books.

You can judge a book by its ‘dust test’ as university library cuts its staff and stock

Yuko Narushima, May 12, 2011

John Shipp, librarian at the Fisher Library, says half of the facility’s books will be culled.

ONE of Australia’s most prestigious university libraries is to get rid of 30 staff and remove 500,000 books and journals.

In a fiery question-and-answer session yesterday, John Shipp, the librarian at Fisher Library at Sydney University, told staff and students of plans to reduce the main stack by almost half.

The cull is part of a redevelopment funded by the federal government.

The growth of e-journals and digital books meant some hard copies were no longer needed on shelves, which he said were built higher and closer together than safety and building standards permitted.

The award-winning library has 48 kilometres of shelf space and needed to relocate 19, Mr Shipp said. ”There’s a bursting point that we’ve reached,” he said.

Items not borrowed for five years would be targeted but nothing would be moved to storage or discarded without consultation with academics.

As much as 58 per cent of monographs had not been used in five years and talks were under way to find a storage site, he said.

Angry staff and students said the university had failed to consider alternatives, such as adding floors. It was a ”false equation” to say books that were not borrowed were unused, one woman said. Many were read in the library and not taken out. Mr Shipp said that was true of only 2 per cent of unborrowed books. Pressed on how he could know, he replied: ”We do the dust test.”

The library had received nearly $27 million in federal funding to upgrade the lifts, airconditioning, electrical wiring, toilets and for refurbishment and was under pressure to use it, Mr Shipp said.

Source: SMH

From a  correspondent:

That is an article riddled with contradictions. well, yes, I know it is the SMH, but that aside I mean the actual facts referred to in the piece.

It is a cull as a result of funding. Normally one buys more when funding comes in. I know I do when my domestic parole officer lets me have more pocket money.

The building is described as "award winning" and yet it is apparently unsafe. I remember as an undergraduate seeing the awards on the wall as I scurried past the hairy lefties at the check out – I couldn’t believe it then and I still can’t now, especially knowing that the building which won awards for its design as a library can’t actually house books safely (or at all).

The library is apparently culling books because so many are available now electronically, and yet the article also says that the books to be culled are those that haven’t been borrowed for more than 5 years.

What ghastly people. The university should have its funding removed entirely.

The only consolation is that they will no doubt be culling just the sort of books that we like. I only hope they actually sell them rather than pulping them to be recycled and turned into fast food receptacles.



Students plan dust-up with uni over library’s book cull

Yuko Narushima May 13, 2011

STUDENTS at the University of Sydney are planning a ”mass book-borrowing action” to prevent volumes being removed from Fisher Library’s shelves.

The prestigious library is to be renovated, with 19 of 40 kilometres of shelf space to be relocated and 500,000 books and journals cleared from the stack.

This week the university librarian, John Shipp, said volumes not borrowed in the past five years will be removed. A ”dust test” proved that in most cases books that were not borrowed were also unread, he said.

In protest, a history graduate, Jo Ball, yesterday organised a Facebook page urging students and staff to borrow vulnerable books to prevent their removal. Last night the protest had been supported by undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as some staff. ”We’re going to go and disturb the dust,” Ms Ball, 30, said. ”I don’t think books should have an expiry date.”

Ms Ball said she expected 50 people to participate in the event, called ”Save the books! Disturb the dust! Mass book borrowing action this Wednesday”. She encouraged people to borrow the maximum number of books allowed on their cards at 1pm.

Source: SMH

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