For all the influence of digital technology on education, there remains a reason why printed materials won’t be disappearing from academic libraries anytime soon, said Carolyn Henderson Allen, dean of University of Arkansas Libraries.
“We have not figured out how we can preserve what we’re creating electronically very effectively,” Allen said.
The challenge involves controlling temperature and humidity while also ensuring the availability of collections to students and researchers.
Mistakes — as UA found out last year — lead to irreparable damage.
Looking ahead, UA plans to spend about $11.4 million on a new high-density storage building a few blocks from the main campus. The controlled-environment facility will house published works, as well as some of the unique papers and items donated to the university as part of its special collections.
With a new space for books, UA also plans to make better use of its increasingly cramped main library, Allen said.
“The building is very often full to capacity, and I get comments from the students that they really do need more places to study,” Allen said.