Driven by dramatic budget cuts that will shutter four campus libraries, staffers at UC San Diego are removing roughly 150,000 books and journals from their collections by summer’s end – selling volumes to the highest bidder or donating them.
If UCSD students or researchers want to check out the selected writings of Benjamin Rush, they might have to request it through an interlibrary loan and wait for a couple of days until it is delivered from another UC campus or from one of two UC library storage facilities.
The UCSD libraries face at least a $3 million budget cut in the coming academic year – about a 12 percent decrease. That comes on top of previous cuts of $5 million since 2008-09, UCSD libraries spokeswoman Dolores Davies said.
To deal with the cuts, the university has closed its medical center library, the International Relations & Pacific Studies library, and the Center for Library & Instructional Computing Services. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography is slated to be closed next year.
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Officials have said the savings will come from eliminating vacant positions and ceasing to operate the buildings. The library closures sparked controversy among faculty and students, but it's less widely known that they have also caused a significant weeding of the university’s collections.
With library space on campus shrinking dramatically, room on the shelves is more scarce. Officials are getting rid of books and journals with low circulation as long as they are either available digitally or are held by another UC campus or facility, Davies said.
"This does not include any of our important collections," she said.
Overall, the university will cull about 4 percent of its 3.5 million volume print collection by the end of summer. The university could get rid of more volumes later this year, depending on officials’ assessment of other collections.
Andrew Hsiu, a UCSD student hired to help pack and move the withdrawn books this summer, said the university has been trying to keep a low profile on the project. He said that when a library facilities employee saw him taking photos of withdrawn books and blacked-out barcodes, the employee ordered Hsiu to delete the photos, telling Hsiu that releasing the images to the public could stir controversy.
"Even though all the students here at UCSD know that certain libraries are closing, the vast majority of them are completely unaware that this entails discarding hundreds of thousands of books," Hsiu said in an e-mail.
Hsiu, a junior majoring in linguistics, said he's concerned about the university's shrinking collections.
"These actions are completely irreversible, and will be deeply regretted by future generations," Hsiu said. "Out-of-print books that used to be at UCSD are going to be gone forever. Future generations of scholars and students need the books right here in San Diego."
Courtesy Andrew HsiuUCSD libraries are packing up more than 150,000 discarded books and journals to sell or donate.
Davies said a student employee had been asked to stop taking photos because "his actions were disruptive to the work flow and we do have clear guidelines about filming or photographing in library buildings."
She said university library officials informed the Academic Senate in the spring about the effort to withdraw books and journals, and that they plan to update faculty and students on the project this fall.
The libraries are only getting rid of volumes that don’t support active research and teaching because they haven't been used recently and are duplicated elsewhere, Davies said.
"Our intellectual resources provide the foundation for research at UC San Diego and we remain committed to continuing to develop the print and electronic collections needed to support our academic mission," she said.
Many of the books and journals removed so far have gone to Surplus Sales, an outlet for disposing of excess university property. Surplus Sales has donated 48 pallets of volumes considered to be of low value to Better World Books, a for-profit bookseller based in Alpharetta, Georgia, Davies said. Better World Books turns a healthy profit but also donates about 7 percent of its net revenue to its literacy partners, according to news reports.
For books and journals it deems worth selling, Surplus Sales auctions the volumes by the pallet to registered vendors through a sealed bid process, Davies said. The proceeds from the sales are split between the university, which gets 70 percent, and Surplus Sales, which gets 30 percent. Davies said data on the number of books sold or proceeds is not yet available.
Former student Phillip Espinoza, who graduated from UCSD in June, said it bothered him that the university was selling off the discarded books.
Courtesy Andrew HsiuA student was told not to take photos of the discarded UCSD books.
“It just shows the UC’s ongoing thirst for money,” he said. “It’s just becoming one big business.”
The university could not provide a complete list of withdrawn titles, but Davies provided a sampling. The list includes a 1941 first edition of "Carl Sandburg: A study in personality and background" by Karl Detzer and several volumes of The Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology from 1960 to 1969.
Spared from the culling effort are all “collections of distinction,” including all volumes in the Mandeville Special Collections Library. Also, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Archives will remain intact, Davies said.
The weeding effort is part of a broader strategy to move the University of California’s 10-campus network toward a shared library system, Davies said.
A draft report [PDF] released in May by a UC library task force said that as a result of UC's obligation to fully fund the retirement system and to absorb a cut of $500 million to $1 billion in state funding, the libraries may see budget cuts as much as $52 million, or 21 percent of their budget base, over the next six years.
One of the strategies to deal with the cuts is to manage stack space by increasing shared library services and eliminating "unnecessary duplicates." A January 2011 memo [PDF] from the task force says that an "appropriate number of copies shall be retained somewhere in the university" whenever possible, and that the print collections could be reduced by up to 12 million volumes in the next six years.
The budget cuts will "inevitably have an undesirable effect on library services and support for the University’s academic programs," task force chair and Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas wrote in the May report.
Laine Farley, executive director of the UC's California Digital Library, said the UC system has had shared library services for decades but that the streamlining of print collections has now become more dramatic because of budget and space constraints.
She acknowledged that some people have concerns about the discarding of books and journals, but she downplayed the effect on the quality of the libraries' collections.
"I would say in general that people have the fear – are you going to get rid of the right things? Are you going to get rid of things I really need?" Farley said. "To be honest, librarians are very conservative. They’re not going to willy-nilly get rid of stuff."
|The American journal of surgery||26:5,27:3,27:5-6,27:8-9,27:11-12,28:1-5,28:9-11,30:7,30:9-12,31:1-7,31:9-12,32-33,34:1-3,34:6-12,35-40 (1912-JUN1926)|
|Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association||1-5 7-9 (1961-1969)|
|Anatomischer Anzeiger||116-118,119:1,119:3-5,120-125 (1965-1969)|
|The Annals of otology, rhinology & laryngology||70-78 (1960-1969)|
|Annals of physical medicine||8-9 (1965-1968)|
|The Journal of nutrition : JN||9-99 (1935-1969)|
|Journal of personality and social psychology||1-13 (1965-1969)|
|The Journal of the Louisiana State Medical Society||117-118, 120-121 (1956-1969)|
|Médecine et armées||1-9, 11 (1973-1983)|
|Medical Research Council annual report||1966-1968 (1965-1968)|
|Methods of information in medicine. Methodik der Information in der Medizin||1-8 (1962-1969)|