Thursday, June 30, 2011

Books: 5th Floor

As preparation for our fabulous Show Me the Money campus tour tomorrow, at noon, starting in front of Morris library, I've been thinking again a bit about one of my favorite issues from a couple of years ago: the fact that our new library has rather fewer books than our old one did. Progress! I was even able to snap a picture today of one of my all time favorite campus signs, from the elevators in Morris:

My nine year old son, who is currently "assisting" me in typing this up, at once noted the great thing about this sign.  Son: "Why do you always have to be working on that stupid blog?"  Dave: "Check out this sign from the library."  Son: "Oh yeah, that's really cool, Dad.  But wait, so why can you only get books on the 5th floor of your library?"  Exactly.


  1. I really miss the old library. All they had to do was deal with the ventilation problem that was a bane for years. Now the new version resembles an airport lounge of empty spaces passed when one goes from one flight to another. Also have you noticed how many books remain un-shelved on carts on the third and fifth floor? One book I returned a month ago is still on a cart waiting to be re-shelved while a new book that is supposed to be in the shelf is not there in an overcrowded area. If this is not a strategy to turn students away from reading hard copy books and journals (especially those from the pre-1997 era which have never been surpassed in critical analysis, I will be very surprised. I expressed my regret to two retired library workers yesterday stating how much I missed them and the old library.

  2. Hold on there, Dave and Tony.
    - The library has many times more monographs than it had before the renovation.
    - What do you think is one of the most often asked question of library staff? ... "Where are the books?" The new signage directly answers that.

    You're falling into silly conspiracy theories here!

    The library renovation was well underway before any of the current administration arrived here and that it is not finished is a strong source of discontent for everyone who works there.

    Snarking about strategies instead of the simplest explanation (understaffed and overworked) suggests you will throw your fellow union supporters under a bus just to hype your position.

    Watch it!

  3. Tony and Dave,

    The library now also has some books on the fourth floor. Books continued to be purchased after the renovation, and it reached the point that there wasn't enough space on the shelves in the fifth floor for all of them. One reason, aside from lack of staff, for the large number of carts of unshelved books on the fifth floor was that there just wasn't room for the books on the shelves. This summer, some of the books are being moved down to four to make more room. That change should reduce one of the causes for the unshelved book problem, but it won't increase the number of staff to shelve them.

    Anonymous, "The library has many times more monographs than it had before the renovation." How are you counting monographs? I'll double check the ARL Statistics, but I'm pretty sure they don't show the library having many times more monographs than it had before the renovation.

  4. For me, the issue is not the library renovations, which I believe were both necessary and extremely well done. I think the new library is a lovely building, and a vital expense compared to many others we've seen in the past. ( I even like the cafe). The issue is what Dave points out-the absurdity of not having money to actually move the books over from McClafferty!

  5. Thanks to Julie for the update. Anonymous is of course right in the sense that SIUC owns more books than it used to (though budget cuts led to a freeze on monograph purchases for a while). And, yes, this isn't Cheng's fault--I didn't say it was. The point is that there are fewer books in Morris library itself, as so many have been left behind in McLafferty. We spent nearly $50 million on the renovation but failed to save $1.5 million to restore the books. There are two reasons this matters to me.

    1. Those books are less accessible, particularly less accessible for browsing by students who may not be able to get there during the four hours it's open each weekday. Whenever I go myself to get a book from McLafferty (rather than having it fetched), I end up coming home with three more books--which often end up being more valuable to me than the one I went for in the first place. Browsing, after all, is why we shelve books in the LOC or Dewey systems, rather than simply by order of accession--which is rather easier to do, and is done by a university library I once used in Berlin (browsing there was a surreal experience). Ideally, of course, we'd move the books from Dewey into LOC, but I know that's a pipe dream.

    2. This is more anecdotal than statistical, but since books have been in McLafferty I've noticed that something like 5% of the books we're supposed to have aren't where they are supposed to be. Anyone else have this experience? I fear that there was a fair amount of disorder during the transfer.

  6. Sorry for multiple comments, but rereading the throwing union people under the bus bit again inspires this: The problem isn't lazy library staff, but decisions about funding priorities made by administrators. (This will include the lack of funding to do the shelf-reading needed to find lost books.) And the dean who oversaw the renovation, and defended the failure to move the books over (including in a couple of impressive emails he exchanged with me years ago) is still in place.

    I'm not complaining about the library renovation being incomplete: if there wasn't enough money to do the whole thing, there wasn't enough money. I'm complaining about the decisions made about what to prioritize. I still happen to think that books are a big priority for a library. Even if the books are eventually brought back, there will be several classes of SIUC students who never had a fully functional library building to make use of.

  7. Dave, Yes. I've noticed that 5% of the books are not where they are supposed to be. The same appliues to Morris as well as McLafferty.

  8. Not quite related to thread but still interesting from Indiana

    Faculty Pay is Priority

  9. Has someone looked at the administrative salary increases on BOT agenda?
    Nicklow, John - 41%
    Harfst, Terri – 22%
    Marshall, Judith – 15%
    Morrisette, Lisa, 21%
    Short, Lisa – 39%
    Wallace, Mary – 19%
    I am yet to see similar raises for faculty, even with promotion from one rank to the other. Do we need to remind our administration how hard a faculty member has to work to get a promotion while most administrative promotions are based on how well one sucks-up the administration.


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