Thursday, October 19, 2006

Library Changes: As some of you may know, the Main Library is beginning to undergo major renovations to accomodate the new University Learning Centre, which will take up much of the current entry level and first floor of the main building. The ULC, as it seems destined to be known pending a corporate benefactor, promises to become a much-needed focal point for student life and study on campus, but nothing is without its costs and one consequence of the reconfiguration of Library space is that about 5 km of shelf space will disappear. More space than you might think can be reclaimed in various creative ways, such as utilizing the currently empty top shelves, and leaving less open space on the shelves. Some materials currently on the shelves, however, will definitely have to be moved out of the building. The History Department, led by our faculty Library Liason, Lisa Smith, has been monitoring these developments, and we are pleased to say that nearly all of our initial concerns have been put to rest. The majority of the items to be removed will be paper copies of journals now available in electronic format. The library will retain the paper copies, transferring them to a storage facility across campus. In certain instances -- journals with high quality printed images, for example -- the originals may be retained on the Main Library shelves even if there is an electronic copy. Other materials judged to be little used, especially those for which there is an alternative electronic source, will be moved to the storage facility as well. These will continue to be listed in the cataglogue, and readers will be able to order them and collect them a day or so library from the library. Similar arrangements have been made by university libaries everywhere, since they almost all face similar challenges relating to storage space. Our new storage facility, like its counterparts elsewhere, will be accessible only to library staff, a move necessitated by security and building code concerns: shelves in the Library proper, for example, need to be far enough apart to afford wheel chair access, whereas in the storage facility they can be set up with narrower corridors.

We would all prefer that all our books were always right where we would wish them, but given that something has to give, our friends and colleagues in the Library are, as usual, making careful and astute decisions with our needs and wishes very much on their minds. We can also look forward to further consultation as further decisions regarding history materials come to be made.