Former number-one cool school looking to reclaim its title
As UC Davis looks to remodel its main library, the first thing to be nixed is the school’s collection of books. With nearly 40 percent of books sitting on carts with no destination, the school has decided that the best thing that it can do is burn all of its books to create more space. Peter J. Shields Library has housed books since 1940. Not anymore.
In place of the books, the university will purchase nearly one million tablets that can be checked in and out in place of the physical books that once stood in their place. The library will hold its “book burning” Friday night. UC Davis will provide students with matches and lighters. Each student will be given a maximum of six books that he or she can burn. Atop the list of books will be first-edition copies of Fahrenheit 451.
“Modern is chic. Modern is ‘less is more.’ Modern means clearing house in the library,” said Kurt West, the mastermind behind the library renovation. “We were the number one cool school, and now we’re not. We have to do everything to reclaim that title. Books use paper. We don’t want to use paper anymore.”
The harsh backlash to the dropping in the rankings makes no sense to critics of the library plan, who accuse the school of a knee-jerk reaction that will cost millions of dollars in lost investments in books — along with the estimated $400 million to be spent on new tablets.
“This is stupid. It’s a library, for crying out loud. Library literally comes from the Latin for ‘old books,’” said Emily Newton, a fourth-year English major. “Call me old-fashioned, but this is the sole purpose for a library. It’s not some silly tech hub.”
Shields Library, which houses 3.2 million books, will see its stacks cut by nearly one-third. The university plans on creating more study-friendly spots and a virtual reality lab.
“This is just another move by the school showing that the humanities mean nothing,” said Bill Hernandez, professor of journalism at UC Davis. “There’s no way one doesn’t love holding a book and counting the pages until the end of the chapter.”
After considering not only the financial cost, but also the cost of the image of the school, it is clear that this top research institution holds little regard for those in the liberal arts. With no real direction for what the school wants, and little regulation of the tablets, UC Davis has found itself in a situation looking for whom it should please. UC Davis needs to figure out its identity. Spending this much money and time makes no sense given the heartache that it will cause students.
The school has elected to go with the more progressive, technological approach that will leave the school searching for physical books at the expense of making its library more aesthetically pleasing.
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