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Library closures at NZ university prompt fears of book burnings

Staff members at the University of Auckland fear the institution will burn thousands of books if it goes ahead with plans to close down specialist libraries, reports Radio NZ.

The university recently proposed shutting down its architecture and planning, music and dance, and fine arts libraries in favour of merging them with the general library, following the closure of the engineering library more than a year ago.

A staff member who worked to close down the engineering library told Radio NZ around 10,000 books were incinerated during the previous closure because it was the cheapest and quickest way to get rid of stock. ‘Any books that they had a copy of or hadn’t used for a substantial amount of time would be carted off to the incinerator,’ he said.

The staff member, who asked that his identity be protected, said a computer program determined what books would be kept based on their age and how frequently they were used.

In a statement, the university said it had an ‘existing and active collection development policy for library material’.

‘As part of ongoing collection development and management, some material is disposed of according to policy—this includes damaged items and out of date text books no longer required,’ it said.

‘In the case of the closure of a library … there is certainly no wholesale destruction (or incineration) of books; they are primarily relocated to the relevant library or into storage,’ said the university.

Students at the University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts have petitioned the university to rethink the review to merge the fine arts library, with some stating that moving the texts offsite to the general library was ‘totally contradictory’ to how students researched.


Category: Library news