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History department says no to library renovations

Not everyone on campus is pleased with the changes being made to the library. During the March 18 Faculty Senate meeting sen. and associate professor of history Eric Strahorn voiced his opinion on Library NEXT, a program that focuses on revamping the library by removing old or outdated books and making more space available for study rooms.

He stated that the history department thrives on utilizing the library and its history texts, and the initiative will negatively impact the department.

Kathleen Miller, the library dean and spearhead of Library NEXT, explained that the library isn’t just throwing out books — the faculty is following a strict criteria and working closely with the history department before deciding to remove texts.

“What we’re doing is reviewing the whole collection and looking at materials that have been here a certain amount of time and haven’t been used,” Miller said.

Items that are more than 10 years old, have not circulated or been browsed within 10 years and texts that are not core pieces within the discipline are subject to removal and will be placed at either the Florida Academic Repository in Gainesville or be donated to Better World Books, an online bookseller.

“As of right now very little has been removed,” Rachel Tait-Ripperdan, the assistant librarian for history said. “The things that have been removed from the history collection are already held at the depository.”

If a text is already held at FLARE, it will then be sent to BWB because FLARE doesn’t allow multiple copies due to space.

“Anything that’s held in FLARE is accessible to our students whether it comes from us or from UF or from whomever,” Tait-Ripperdan said.

Tait-Ripperdan has also been working closely with Nicola Foote, Ph.D., the social sciences department chair, discussing what can and can’t be removed from the collection.

“We’re not just going through and saying ‘eh, I don’t like this book’ or ‘this book hasn’t been checked out in a year,’ there’s a very specific (protocol),” Tait-Ripperdan said. “If it’s been checked out in the last 10 years obviously there’s a need for it.”

Miller stated that Foote has been very involved in the process.

“She’s been very engaged in it,” she said. “She came in and talked about the project, she knows exactly what we’re doing.”

While the books will be preserved and won’t simply be tossed aside assistant professor of medieval history Melodie Eichbauer, Ph.D., said that students and faculty both will suffer from losing physical copies in the library.

“It’s going to be awful,” Eichbauer said. “With our quality enhancement plan one of our big agenda items is to engage undergraduates in research earlier and earlier in their career, which means in order to teach research faculty need to do research. If we can’t just walk into a library to pick up what we need and we have to Interlibrary Loan everything and UBorrow everything that really impacts the ability to produce work.”

In a typical 16-week semester, research students need to start looking for research topics during week four. If the books those students need aren’t readily available in the library, it will be more difficult to produce a quality paper.

“By the time you ILL and it comes in or even UBorrow, which takes longer and longer as the semester goes on, that leaves you with less time to analyze the material and less time to write the paper which will all equal a lower quality paper,” Eichbauer said.

The history department will be receiving a list of what the library is looking to take off.

“As a faculty member, yes I’m concerned with what’s being taken off,” Eichbauer said. “As long as I have a say in what’s being taken off, I’m cool with that. What I’m not cool with is new books not coming in.”

Tait-Ripperdan said that the library is working on receiving new editions and the department regularly give the library a list of what content they need.

“We are always buying new materials,” Tait-Ripperdan said. “The collection will continue to grow and develop and we’ll figure out what’s needed.”

A lack of physical copies on campus will not only affect research papers but students’ ability to be published in academic journals as well. Eichbauer serves as a reviewer for the Medieval Review, a peer reviewed academic journal published through Indiana University.

“We talk to prospective reviewers of works and all of the works that are now only coming as e-books, the reviewers are declining,” Eichbauer said. “They want the print edition.”

Eichbauer has personally declined a review because it did not include information from a print edition. She said that to help both the department and the library, renovations need to be made.

“I think we’re getting to the point now where we can build onto the library,” Eichbauer said. “I know we need classrooms, I know we need offices, but I daresay we need library space above both.”

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