Newcastle University Library dumps its books
Robinson Library, Newcastle University.
(Photo by Andrew Curtis is licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.)
Hard on the heels of the recent post about Brent Council’s plans to close its libraries comes this article by Peter Jones in The Spectator about how Newcastle University Library is dumping its books.
This summer, management started removing books. The reasoning was explained in a loop heralding ‘Phase 1 of the great transformation’ that played endlessly on a TV at the library exit: ‘Welcome back to your refurbished Robinson Library. You asked, we listened… We have moved loads of shelving to make room for more study spaces. We’ve shifted crate-loads of the less-used stock to provide more light, more room and a more comfortable space to study in. And created a greater variety of study areas. Choose the one that best suits your work-style!’ And the final picture — empty chairs with the words ‘Now that Phase 1 is all done, we are just waiting for you to fill the empty spaces!’ Phase 2, it promises for 2012, will continue this noble mission.
If we thought gonk-world was a one-off, this nauseating hymn of self-praise removed all doubt. Forget, if you can, the paradox that a library should create more space by removing books. Instead, ask ‘which books?’ The answer laid bare the full extent of the management’s trahison des clercs: it was celebrating its triumph in removing, from arts and sciences alike, the complete runs of virtually all the academic journals, the central research tool for academics in the humanities and the goal of all committed students. And management was actually boasting about it! They should be grovelling in shame.
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