This is a silly beat-up: Books get the shove as uni students go online
Most libraries have weeding programs. We do at UTS. With collaborative collection sharing programs like our Bonus+, there is no longer a need to each and every library to hold at least one copy of every book. Where would we put them even if we could afford them?
In many cases books are disposed of because they are worn out, beyond repair, or we cannot maintain multiple copies of texts which have been superseded by subsequent editions.
Newspapers are not always valuable or rare just because they are old. Copies are generally held by the state and national libraries and they are busy digitising them now for improved access. They are a right pain to store and preserve as they were not produced for long term maintenance. Very few academic libraries have the resources to maintain old newspaper collections. By their very nature they are ephemeral in their original form. I disposed of a large newspaper cuttings collections in the collection of the Australian War Memorial for exactly these reasons. All were held by the National Library.
A lot of those encyclopaedias, dictionaries, journals and books contain information and knowledge that has been superseded. They become redundant. This also relates to the point attributed to Professor Miller at the end of the article.
Weeding programs are carefully managed by professional staff and books are written off only after careful determination of their continued usefulness. They are not simply dumped in skips without consultation.
It is outrageous for anyone to claim they are all extremely good books without seeing them, nor assessing them in light of other collections held.
The “former library assistant” is probably not the most reliable source to quote on whether a certain library sees its function as an archive. In fact, most academic libraries do not function as archives. (I have managed both an archive and a library.)
The Starbucks claim is a complete emotional beat up and easy mud to sling. Libraries are to be about people, not just books. Time marches on and so too should the professor. Books are no longer chained up in libraries and controlled by monks.
Serendipitous discovery is still possible without all books on the shelves and in open access. Most European academic libraries operate like this. UTS will be providing serendipitous discovery to our collections in an underground Library Retrieval System, in different ways online. They may well be more effective means of browsing for something useful than someone browsing shelves, mostly at eye height, for books that stand out because of decorations on their spines. We have been talking to academics within UTS to explore this kind of assisted and extended serendipitous online discovery since 2010 and I am going to talk to some students tomorrow afternoon regarding a project to address issues such as this.