This is a picture of the back of the library at work. You can see where the shelves used to be by the holes in the carpet and the brown paint. I still don’t know how much has been moved and discarded, but it looks and feels like a lot. There will be a wall going up soon, which will intersect the brown wall. We’re losing a huge chunk of our footrprint and it hurt.
Don’t anybody think that this whole process didn’t suck. It sucked a lot. It physically hurt carrying all those books to make it easier for the movers. It mentally hurt taking apart one of the most well known transportation collections. Students, faculty, the public, librarians, pretty much anybody who heard about this project has asked “How can you do such a thing?” as if we had a choice.
Big props to the movers. They were amazing. They have been involved in a number of similar moves on campus and really knew what to do. When we were doing the pre-move walk-through, one of the movers made the observation, “Another library moving to make room for offices? What a surprise.” It’s not quite an epidemic, but I think we might be the fourth or fifth case on campus. Space is a premium and unfortunately a lot of campus leaders think library stacks are under-utilized, practically empty space waiting to be turned into a cubical farm. It stings but I also know we’re not the first nor the last, and there’s comfort in that.
I also know what’s on the shelves is stuff that people use and that you know what? People like the window dressing of large runs of shelves packed with paper, but that doesn’t mean they actually want what’s contained. It’s comforting to see the vast array of stuff on a shelf. You know we have it, you know it’s ours. What about the stuff we license? That’s harder to wrap your head around, even though you probably use it a hell of a lot more and would prefer it.
So now the clean up begins before the wall goes up, and a big part of that will mean making the electronic stuff people don’t know we have access to a lot easier to find and browse. How? Well… that’s the new hard part.