Story by Larissa Wurm
Photo by Luke Nankivell
The initiative, as outlined in the formal announcement, aims to “responsibly reduce the size of local print collections, create and maintain a distributed, shared collected of these titles, coordinate acquisitions with the goal of developing a shared collections and establish an environment where exploration and additional collaborations can flourish.”
With the program, there will be more free space for student study spaces and learning areas.
“Schools are running out of space,” said Teri Koch, the Cowles Library collection development coordinator. “We, everyone, just can’t add on anymore.”
The idea and planning for the initiative started in March.
“We had to talk to the other directors and get meetings in order to pitch our idea,” Koch said. “But we know these people. … They are our friends. They trust us.”
After they pitched the idea, they had to get more staff involved to get the process moving.
All colleges and universities hired a single consultant to look at all the collections the libraries have and “analyze all the data” to look for commonalities.
This is especially important at a time when more things are available online, said Koch.
“In the space we do have, there are a lot of things we need to be looking at using that space for,” Koch said.
She said that most of the books libraries have now were bought “just-in-case” someone needed them. She would like to add more books bought “just-in-time.”
A number of factors will be looked at when deciding what books will be removed from the collections, such as how often they are used, what students and faculty could need and what people may potentially need in the future.
What happens to withdrawn books has not been decided yet.
“We obviously would try to find homes for them,” Koch said. “Or we would sell them to Better World Books, who we have a contract with. They would sell the books, and we would get part of the profits and use that money for other things.”
“We don’t want to just get rid of them,” Koch said. “Not unless all options have been exhausted.”
“It’s also a preservation need,” Koch said. “We do this in a way, where if we do it together. … We can repurpose that space. There is a certain preservation objective to it.”
The consultant and libraries involved will also look at unique titles that are held by at least one of the schools.
When students need a book that is currently held by their respective library, another one of the schools will loan it to them. They will receive it in 24 hours (during work hours).
While the time difference may concern some, it pushes students to be organized in their homework.
“If it comes in 24 hours, I should be planning ahead enough where it won’t be a problem,” said Josh Brink, a senior finance major.
“We get to look at purchasing in this manner,” Koch said. “We can buy a copy if we really need it, otherwise we can get a copy from another school and use that money to get books we really need.”
The planning for the project started over the summer and is ongoing. Koch hopes to get the project moving in November after the Cowles staff works more with the faculty on the process.
Koch said students are always talking about having more space and having a better use of space, and this project is a way to help accomplish that.
“I think this new initiative is necessary,” Brink said. “Currently there is not adequate space for group work.”
“I feel like some people will see this as a negative,” Koch said. “I don’t want people to see it that way. This is a positive for the Drake community.”