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Library renovations raise concern

On May 2, 2012

  • In the next two years Drake Memorial Library will begin a redesign of its space. This will require “weeding out” some books to make space.

Like many other buildings on the College at Brockport campus, Drake Memorial Library is due for an upgrade. As part of the Facilities Master Plan (FaMP), the library will undergo renovations starting in 2015.
While most other campus construction projects have not been controversial, the library renovations have raised many questions as to what the future library will look like and, specifically, whether or not books will be as large a part of the library in the future.
To address these issues, two open meetings were held Tuesday, April 24 and Wednesday, April 25 in Edwards Hall. About 40 people, including members of the college administration and library employees, attended the Wednesday meeting.
 Mary Jo Orzech, director of Library Services, and Frank Wojcik (CIO), Associate Provost of Library Information and Technology Services (LITS), led the discussion and shared presentations about the library's plans for change.
Fifteen people are part of the library redesign team. It was formed in April 2011 after the creation of the FaMP and includes OrzechWojcik and Associate Director of Facilities and Planning Paul Tankel.
Although the college will not have the necessary funding until 2015, a project of this magnitude takes years to plan, Tankel said.
The team hired architectural consultants to perform a progressive study and infrastructure analysis of the library.
  Wojcik's presentation included conceptual sketches from the architectural consultants, which included a new academic success center on the ground floor of the library for advisement, student testing and other services.
This will replace the student learning center housed in Cooper Hall, since that building will not be part of the college in the future.
According to the conceptual design, the new center will take up nearly half of the ground floor. College archives, microfilm, library and IT offices would occupy the rest of the space.

Wojcik said entrances are a big part of the redesign because right now entrances are not well-marked or conveniently located. Therefore, people who are unfamiliar with the campus cannot easily locate the main entrance.
The sketches for the middle (main) floor show a library circulation desk, group study rooms, quiet study rooms and a cafe.

"I think the building has to serve all kinds of functions [and] all kinds of needs," Wojcik said.
Many audience members expressed their concern over potentially decreasing the size of the library's book collection. The architectural consultants say 85 percent of the linear shelf space for books that exists now is part of the new design, Wojcik said.
"Our collection is overdue for collection management," Wojcik said. "We need to assess what should or shouldn't be kept."
This process is known as weeding, a topic that has raised many concerns among faculty and staff.
 The weeding process will be done over the next 18 to 24 months, beginning in summer 2012, and will be a "planned, respectful review of the collections," Orzech said.
  Orzech and Wojaci both stressed the need to build a library for the future and not stick with the status quo.
"Weeding out is not a new concept," Orzech said. "It's something we do every day and something that's being done at every library."
Audience members were skeptical to accept decreasing the library's written collection.
One audience member, Pamela O'Sullivan, head of integrated public services for LITS, suggested the library decrease its collection by 10 to 15 percent.
The library's collection was largely built in the 1970s, and the majority of the collection is from 1970-1979, according to Orzech's presentation.
"The library is great for a 1970 student, but it's not in the best interest of our students to see the world through a 1970 lens," Orzech said.
The library will not be throwing out the weeded books, but will go through the necessary recycling practices and are giving faculty and staff the chance to review the materials first. If a faculty member wants a book being weeded, he or she will have the opportunity to take it out permanently. In addition, the lists of weeded books will be made available to the public, Orzech said.
Only 26 percent of the volumes in the main circulation collection have been used in the last 24 years, Orzech said. This data was compiled from 1988 to 2012, and includes interlibrary loans, checked out books and in-house use.
"There's no doubt we owe a lot to the librarians of the past and present, and the faculty who have helped shape and grow the collection to where it is," Orzech said. "They have left us an enormous legacy. We are not going to damage that legacy; we are not going to put that in jeopardy [but] we also have to think of the legacy we want to leave for the students of the future."

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