Dimond discards thousands of books in dumpster

By Nick Stoico
On April 22, 2014

  • Fifty-one thousand volumes, none of which have been checked out in 20 years, were tossed in a dumpster outside Dimond Library. The books were cleared from the shelves in order to make room for the Biological Sciences Library being moved from Kendall Hall. Cameron Johnson/Staff

Dimond Library is cleaning house and library administrators are just trying to keep everybody calm. A dumpster located on the west side exterior of the building was seen filled with old books on Monday, raising questions as to what is going on at UNH's central library.

According to Collection Management Librarian Jennifer Carroll, as many as 36,000 volumes have been identified for disposal by the end of the semester, with another 15,000 being moved to storage. These numbers does not necessarily represent the quantity of books that are being recycled, as a volume can consist of just one book or a whole series.

A dumpster filled with books may be a horrific image for some. But according to interviews with library administrators, it is necessary for libraries to throw away the old to make room for the new.  

"It's like pruning a tree," said Tracey Lauder, assistant dean for library administration. "Sometimes you got to cut off a branch or two. We're all upset about this."

Currently, the library holds 1,551,256 print volumes, 493,653 online books and 56,456 online journals. Carroll said each of the 51,000 volumes set to be removed have not been checked out in at least 20 years.

The library is clearing these shelves to make room for the integration of the Biological Sciences Library, which is currently located in Kendall Hall, to implement a new Natural Sciences Research Center in Dimond on the second level.

The library needed to be vacated from Kendall Hall to make room for "work to be done." To integrate this library into Dimond, space had to be cleared on level two and subsequently on level five.

"It's a domino effect and the end result is it will be a healthier collection," Lauder said. "It will be a healthier, more usable collection."

Carroll said the weeding out began about two weeks ago. Old periodicals were the first to be disposed and art history books were weeded out over the weekend, starting last Friday.

Another reason for weeding out the books is to meet fire code restrictions. Books sitting upright on the top shelves violated fire code because they were too close to the sprinklers in the ceilings. The only way to keep books on these shelves and be within the restrictions set by the fire department was to have the books laying face-down on the shelves. This greatly reduces the number of books that can be stored on these top shelves.

Some 15,000 volumes will be moved to the bottom floor of Dimond where the books will not be open to the public but will be available upon request. 

Lauder said the most commonly asked question surrounding the disposed books is why can't the books be donated to another library or a charity? 

"You don't want to send a textbook that we are saying isn't good enough, we don't want to use it to teach our students, but we are going to send it off to teach somebody else? That's not a good idea," Lauder said.

Lauder went on to say she would be "hard pressed" to find a library that would accept these old books.

"In a perfect world, we would have had all kinds of time to plan this all out," Lauder said. "[We could have] had a book sale, let people come in and review the materials. In a perfect world, that would have been optimal."


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