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UNH library halts book disposal after complaints

New Hampshire Union Leader

April 23. 2014 11:18PM

DURHAM — Administrators at University of New Hampshire’s Dimond Library have put on hold an effort to discard little-used books and periodicals, in response to complaints received this week from faculty members and students.

Tracey Lauder, assistant dean for library administration, said the sight of a Dumpster outside the library filled with books may have upset some, but the “weeding out” of older titles is a necessary part of life at any library.

“Due to the feedback received this week from faculty members, we have put a halt until further notice to discarding any additional books,” Lauder said. “The ones that were discarded earlier this week have been covered in a protective tarp, and moved to a location protected from the weather until a decision on what to do with them is made. Going forward, faculty members will have a say in what books are discarded as part of this process.”

According to Lauder, roughly 51,000 volumes were recommended for disposal by the end of the current semester, based on circulation data. Many of the volumes hadn’t been checked out in 20 years.

“It’s like pruning a tree,” said Lauder. “You have to trim back a branch or two sometimes, get rid of the old to make room for the new.”

UNH collection management librarian Jennifer Carroll said the books were being discarded to make room for materials from a biosciences library scheduled to close May 30. Materials from that library will become part of Dimond Library, which will feature a science resources center next fall.

“It’s going to create a healthier collection overall,” Lauder said.

Lauder said another reason for the “weeding out” was that books standing upright on the top shelves in Dimond violated the fire code, due to their proximity to ceiling sprinkler structures.

Old periodicals were the first to be discarded — about two weeks ago — followed by art history books last weekend, according to Lauder.

Lauder said library staff members have been asked why the books can’t be donated to a charity, or a library at another school.

“If there’s a textbook that we are saying is no longer good enough to remain on campus, or is so outdated that we don’t want our students using it, how could we send it somewhere else to be used?” Lauder said. “If we had more time to plan this out, maybe we would have held a book sale, but there is a time element involved here.”

She added: “No one here enjoys this. “We are all librarians here. Books are our livelihood. We’re all upset over this.”

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