The university have announced that they have begun a library cull, where they intend to gradually remove all printed books in the library to make way for a new ‘digital library’.
Earlier this term, students noticed that blue stickers had been placed in hundreds of books in the university’s library. It was later announced that these were the first of the books that the library will extract and either sell or give away, starting with the English literature section. The library losing their books is the beginning of the university’s plan to eventually have a ‘digital’ library, where there will be no printed books and all sources will be online. They have estimated this to be finished by 2025.
The university’s decision to get rid of the books in the library is their idea to deal with students making complaints about the lack of study space available to them. Last year the UWE Student Union received many comments from students, saying that there needed to be a solution to too few study spaces in the library, especially around exam periods. However, this decision has proven to not be so popular with students and lecturers.
English literature professor Robin Jarvis is against the university library turning completely digital, commenting that “electronic sources are useful, but in no way yet replace the printed book collection that we have developed over many years”. He mentioned how students need the library as “we can study and use books in ways that we can’t use electronic sources”. Robin added that he wants students to voice their opinion if they don’t agree with the digital library, saying that “it is important that the university hears that students value the books”. He believes that the library losing printed books will have a huge effect on students’ learning: “In a subject like English books don’t have a ‘use by’ date, and we can’t predict what people will want to study in 10, 20, or 50 years’ time.” He described how a library full of computers and no books would be just like working in a call centre, rather than a place for students to learn.
Students also have strong opinions against the library losing their books. Adam Smith, 20, described it as “comical, something out of a Ray Bradbury novel”. He said that it will have a huge impact on students, adding that “an empty library would be a sore sight and an attack on education”. Fellow student Lucy Mannion, 21, believes it to be a “terrible idea”, and argues that “for £9000 a year, I would expect a library to have books in it”.
The library cull is still on going, however many students are getting involved by creating petitions, writing on social media, and meeting with lecturers to try and put a stop to it.
By Hannah Boulton