Jackson Library Renovation

Overview and Updates | Collections Data | Frequently or Recently Asked Questions | Timeline and Process

Frequently or Recently Asked Questions and Expansion

Building Issues | Collections Issues

Eighty-one million dollars is a lot of money! Will that totally transform the building?

It is a lot of money and we are very appreciative that our project was funded! But our request was for $120 million, so we'll have to scale things back a bit. And rising construction costs and COVID supply chain issues have conspired to further reduce the buying power of the money we did receive. A big chunk of the funding will go to infrastructure like fire suppression, plumbing, HVAC, and electrical in the existing building, so no one should think that we have $81 million to spend on new construction.

I heard other campus units may move into Jackson. Is that true?

It is possible. Nationally, some academic library renovations have sought to consolidate several student service units into a central "one stop" service location. That may or may not be the right model for UNCG. Given our design and construction timeline, we have plenty of time to discuss and decide.

Are other UNC System campuses converting library stack space to other uses?

Yes. About half of the 17 have recently completed or are currently planning to repurpose stacks space in their main library building. Some of the new purposes include campus bookstore, tutoring, innovation studio, advising center, visualization studio, expanded student seating areas, data experience lab, academic success center, quiet study room, writing center, speaking center, graduate study room, and office of undergraduate research.

Collections Issues | Building Issues

Are books going to be removed from the Jackson Tower?

Yes. When Jackson is renovated, we will have to comply with current building codes. For fire safety, we will be installing sprinklers, which will necessitate the removal of the top shelf of each shelving unit. And to accommodate wheelchairs, we need to widen the aisles. These two changes will result in a significant reduction of our shelving capacity, so many books will have to leave the tower.

What will happen to the books that leave the tower?

No decisions have been made, and won't be without campus-wide input and discussion. At this point, we are aware of three options.
    • OPTION 1: Build additional shelving as part of the new construction - Would allow us to keep a larger portion of our print collection on site. But our renovation is already underfunded. And print usage has been trending sharply downwards for more than a decade.
    • OPTION 2: Remote Storage - Cheaper than on-site stacks construction and allows us to retain print books. But UNCG has had an off-site storage site for many years and we have only been averaging about one UNCG retrieval request per week.
    • OPTION 3: Donating - We are investigating an option to donate books to a non-profit that would scan them and make them available online as part of a custom UNCG collection. So, no faculty or students would lose access to any materials. And the print items would be preserved long-term at no cost to UNCG. And we could Interlibrary Loan (ILL) print items if/when faculty need print instead of electronic. But we would have a smaller print book collection on site.
    • It is important to note that the three options above are not mutually exclusive. We could potentially do a mixture of any two, or of all three. If anyone knows of any additional options that should be considered, please let us know.

Would UNCG librarians consider removing from the tower all the books with no uses in recent decades?

That really depends what the campus decides regarding the three options listed above. If, for example, we decide to move a large number of books to a nearby remote storage facility it would indeed make sense to move the books that no one has been using. We wouldn't want to take the highest use books out of the building and make them less accessible! Alternatively, if the campus decides we should build new, additional Jackson stacks as part of the renovation, we would probably move an entire call number range and not worry about usage data at all. The digitize and donate option would likely take into account up to a dozen different factors and would certainly not rely exclusively on recent usage data. At any rate, we can't decide which books to move until we decide how many are moving and where they are going. Those decisions have yet to be made.

If UNCG decides to digitize and donate books, won't that inevitably lead to the destruction or removal of the last extant copy of some books?

No. Of course not. Among librarians it is taboo to remove the last copy of any print item. In fact, we hate to see any print book getting down to its final library copy and have developed multiple processes to avoid that situation. First, libraries share a large database that shows which libraries hold which books, so we can readily see which books are widely held and which are relatively rare. Second, many modern academic libraries (including UNCG) participate in shared print retention programs. There are an estimated 80,000 academic libraries world-wide. To ensure the long term survival of print, we do not need every single library to keep every single copy of every single book; we need enough libraries to keep enough copies of every single book. Retention programs allocate responsibilty for maintaining specific print titles long term.

Some people strongly prefer print. How can they obtain print materials post-renovation?

UNCG's faculty, students, and staff currently have access to 388 million print items through a mixture of onsite shelving, offsite storage, and Interlibrary Loan (ILL). That will continue to be true after the renovation, no matter which option we choose. And we will continue to have approximately 1 million print items in our collection, no matter which option we choose.

Wouldn't the donation of print books greatly reduce access to library materials?

No, just the opposite is true because donated items would still be available in our catalog as ebooks. Ebooks are available to many populations that are poorly served by print materials. The "read aloud" function allows people who are blind, vision impaired, or dyslexic; long distance commuters in transit; and others to interact with books. For ESL listeners, the read aloud function can adopt a variety of accents. And off-campus, and wheelchair and other mobility challenged users have much better access to ebooks than to books on a shelf in Jackson. Simply put, ebooks serve a more diverse user population than print books. Also, our average ebook use per item is six times higher than for print books.


Overview and Updates | Collections Data | Frequently or Recently Asked Questions | Timeline and Process