Sunday, May 15, 2011

Collection Culling: No need for panic. Yet.

This is a warning that intelligent, well educated and cynical (sorry, realistic) folk such as librarians will not need. Not all media reports are accurate. One example relates to the report that the University of Sydney's Fisher Library "disposing" of more than half a million books. (See also Media Reports such as )

The Fisher Library Librarian was on Sydney radio this morning (2UE?). The books are going into closed stack. They have about 60 retrievals a day from there. Students will still be able to borrow the books, but they won't be taking up the space needed for the one lineal kilometre of shelving needed for new acquisitions each year.

Those items being "disposed" are duplicate copies; unsuitable and unused donations; older editions that have been replaced by current editions; and journals where these is a digital copy available. There is *** no need to panic***.

Incidentally, the reports of protesters who intend to borrow en masse leave the library staff absolutely thrilled with the free publicity. I'd venture to suggest that records would show those registered as "protesters" haven't actually borrowed anything since their enrollment.

Personally, I have fond memories of the library, particularly of the vending machine "eatery" beneath the main building, immediately adjacent to the Edgeworth David (geosciences) building, where I spent 4 years of my life. (E.D., not the eatery).

[Pictured here outside the Great Hall with my "baby" sister, who is now one of two barristers in the family.]

As to the loss of 30 staff members ... that wasn't actually mentioned by The Fisher Librarian.


  1. I wonder why they don't put some of the $27 million dollars into digitising some of the books to be archived. That would save space, still preserve knowledge and might be part of a longer term solution. There is a continuing explosion in printed and published knowledge so its going to be an ongoing problem.
    I'm sure there would be copyright problems, and others as well, but there may well be solutions to those problems too. I mean if Harvard university and Google can do this then why not Fisher library and UNSW library as well ? At least it seems like it might be a long term solution if it could be developed.

  2. Without reading the actual the documents available on Fisher Library's website (, I could only speculate.

    But if I was running the library, I'd put the most used books out in open stacks, and the less used books in closed stacks. I'd cull out duplicate copies unless they were high demand, and dispose print versions of journals where identical material was available via any of the various databases (much easier to search).

    And you know what? I think that's pretty much what they are doing ... but I could be wrong. I usually am. Apparently.