I love our library, do not get me wrong. It is a beautiful building with five floors of numerous invaluable resources for young (and old) minds hellbent on honing their educations. That said, our library is facing a severe problem: books.
That might sound a notch odd. How can a library’s biggest problem be its books? Well, the books themselves are just fine. It’s the number of books that is the problem, and most importantly, how that amount is frighteningly small and dwindling.
Last spring, the Ferris Library for Information, Technology and Education (FLITE) began the process of installing the new writing center on the library’s ground floor. And it turned out great. The center is beautiful, resourceful and more popular than ever. Except that space was previously occupied by books of history, geography and political sciences. So, where did they go?
I needed several books for a class project, and the online FLITE catalog claimed they were in the “first floor main stacks” (you know, the ones that no longer exist). The FLITE floor maps stationed throughout the building reiterated this redundant information. So, I did what I loathe most: I asked for help from a library assistant. They informed me those particular books had been moved to the third floor with the other “main stacks.”
Upstairs, something didn’t add up. The sheer difference in floor space was the first clue. There was no way all of the books from the first floor were crammed into the available space above. Something was missing.
It turns out a lot was missing. After some digging, I learned FLITE had reduced its history and humanities book collection by a staggering number. The exact number I know not, but I know its somewhere in the high hundreds, maybe even low thousands.
A list circulated by several faculty members mentioned books that were planned to be removed, but did not confirm their exact status.
These books were not removed to make way for newer books on the same topics. They were not categorized by the expertise of the authors in their fields. They were merely judged by how often they were checked out, like some middle school library, and then removed to make space. Which brings me to my next point.
Why weren’t we notified of this? By “we” I mean the students, a.k.a., the library’s primary and intended patrons.
I do not recall getting that email. I believe a major change like this should be brought to the students’ attention, and maybe even offer us a say in the matter. They made no announcement as to what happened to these books; they just made them “disappear” like some sort of questionable Russian diplomat.
Donated? Dumpstered? Burned to heat the homes of recently impoverished faculty? Rumor has it, there are some books stored away in
a broom closet somewhere. I wish I made that up. Sometimes, no news is bad news.
Long story short, I recently checked 46 books out for an upcoming paper.
Yeah, I’m one of “those” asshole students. Of those 46, only four were from FLITE. The other 42 were drawn from other college and university libraries using the Michigan eLibrary inter-library loan system (MeL) — an AMAZING resource. Use it! I mean, you have to now.
It is only a matter of time before FLITE becomes a ghost town fit just for hustlers, rustlers and the odd bit of tumbleweed. No, thank you.