The stacks at the University of Vermont's Bailey/Howe Library are 80 percent full and are filling up fast.
"We have known that this point has been coming for a while," said Mara Saule, the library's dean.
It's a problem Saule is tackling with an effort to clear 5,000 feet of shelf space. Tens of thousands of volumes of journals filled with academic research that students and faculty now have access to online would go.
"Current issues we will still receive in print or electronically. So from a researcher perspective, there is no loss in continuity," Saule said.
Some faculty members are cringing at the idea. Folks in UVM's classics department say transitioning to an online-only approach for back issues of hundreds of titles is a big problem.
"First of all, we are not convinced that these journals will always be available electronically as they are now because we face large environmental and energy problems for the next 30, 50, 100 years and who knows thereafter," said John Franklin, a UVM professor.
Library staff members say they are working with departments like classics, English, and history to figure out which journals should remain in print. Faculty members argue quality is often lost when material goes online and that part of the academic experience includes exploring these shelves.
"I imagine their default position will be throw it out unless we say no. I think their default position should be to keep it unless we say OK," said Jacques Bailey, a UVM professor.
Saule says the move is necessary to make additional room for new books and student study space and that the mission of the library does not include stockpiling shelves with unlimited volumes.
"UVM is not one of the places charged with preserving comprehensive collections other than our Vermont collections, our unique collections and special collections," Saule said.
Journals will be offered to professors and other libraries before they're recycled. A process that could begin as early as this October.
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