Cal Poly Pomona is not Destroying Books for a Starbucks

It is with much regret that I apologize for my misguided remarks made towards the Cal Poly Pomona library. Unfortunately, the press is not covering both sides of the story and thus clouding the truth. Most importantly, Cal Poly Pomona is not destroying books for a full-service Starbucks Coffee.

Two days ago, I received a response to my request for more information on this conspiracy from archivist and special collections and music librarian Danette Cook Adamson and collection management coordinator Ann Morgan.

My first concern was that Bruce Emerton was the only librarian protesting the library’s destruction of books. As Ms. Adamson mentioned in her response, “[I]f the situation was indeed as being portrayed, you would see all the librarians publicly protesting.”

Adamson: [T]here has been significant misinformation in the news about the Library construction project.

Morgan: The articles you’ve probably seen in the Poly Post, the Press-Enterprise, and on the web are full of misinformation.

So, what of the thousands of books being destroyed for a Starbucks?

Morgan: Yes, there are plans for a Starbucks in the new building but it has absolutely nothing to do with space for books.

Adamson: While it is true that much of the space in the new library expansion is “people space”, I understand there will actually be increased shelf space for books and periodicals by the end of the current construction, and much more by the end of phase 2 of construction (which has been planned but is not yet funded).

Morgan: Much of the space in the [library] addition will be devoted [to] study rooms and other people space. But we will have more shelf space too. Much of the additional shelf space will be in compact shelving rather than traditional library shelving.

Has the library really destroyed 30,000 books solely because they “had not been used for at least 10 years” and was any attempt made to donate them to other libraries?

Adamson: [T]here is no mandate or pressure on me to discard books that have not circulated in 10 years.

Morgan: Since we started preparing for the building project we’ve discard[ed] something like 50,000 – 60,000 volumes. This includes journals with content now available electronically. It also includes indexes and abstracts that we now have in electronic form (databases). Other candidates for weeding came from lists of books that had not been checked out in 10 or more years and every book on the list was available in 5 or more Link+ libraries. Librarians then reviewed the lists, examined the books on the shelves and made a decision to store or discard. There never has been a mandate to discard everything that has not been checked out in 10 years. The lists of items with no circulation in the past 10 years were just a starting point for the librarians to begin their reviews.

Adamson: Much of what has been discarded has been superceded reference works, outdated editions, obsolete books in science and the social sciences such as in computing, technology, law, medicine, periodicals, indexes and abstracts that are now online, etc. Most of this is not wanted by other local libraries.

Morgan: Many of the weeded books have been superseded by newer editions. Much of the content (journals, indexes & abstracts) is now available electronically. … There is very little market for the books we discarded (old text books, etc.). We did offer the bound journals to other libraries which did not want them. Google Books has contracts with specific university libraries. We can’t just send them our old books.

Are the 300,000 books in storage in danger of being discarded?

Morgan: We did send approximately 285,000 volumes to storage. We will have room for them when the project is finished and we are planning to return the stored volumes to shelves. I have heard Mr. Emerton say that these books will all be discarded but I don’t know why he is saying that. The University is paying $70,000/year to store these volumes. Does it make sense that the books would all be “dumped” after spending that kind of money?

Both Ms. Adamson and Ms. Morgan also noted that only the Dean of the library can give an official response to this issue. My concerns were forwarded to him, but I have not received a response from him at this time. I honestly hope that he makes a public response in both the campus and local newspapers to keep this from getting any further out of hand.

Bruce Emerton is a nice person and he has always been passionate about books, but he has certainly omitted several facts in his campaign and has effectively clouded the truth. My only guess as to why he’s doing this is that he hates to see these books being discarded, even if they’re considered to be outdated.

As individuals with public voices, whether you consider yourself to be a journalist or a blogger, we have a responsibility to avoid spreading lies and to uphold the truth whenever possible. Never report on an issue like this without knowing both sides.

4 thoughts on “Cal Poly Pomona is not Destroying Books for a Starbucks

  1. Gina Roth says:

    I was overjoyed to see this article which points out all the misinformation that Bruce Emerton is feeding students, faculty and staff about the discarding of our collection. I am a librarian here and like other librarians never supported Bruce. I see his crusade as a one man vendetta against our Dean – not concern over the books. And he is incorrect that we “are afraid to be seen anywhere around [him].” I choose not to associate with him because his actions disgusted me. I have worked at this library for 30 years and take great pride in the Library and the campus. Bruce’s actions tried to ruin our good reputation. And that does not deserve respect.

  2. The new addition to the library is amazing. It feels like you’re inside a barns and noble, the university has spent good money in modernizing many of the facilities, especially the library.

  3. That sounds great! From what I understand, the majority of the renovated library is now open, and further projects (including the re-shelving of stored books) will be completed before the official grand opening, which is scheduled for late September 2008.

    I’ll have to stop by one of these days to see how it all turned out.

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