A poor collection of library books could hinder student research

Over the last two years, I’ve seen the St. Augustine library undergo a complete makeover. Renovations made to the interior workings of the building, which often had leaks, were obviously necessary.

Other changes, including additional study space with new furniture and more computers on the third and fourth floors, have made the library into a comfortable place for students to sit and relax.

But while St. Augustine now looks a whole lot better than it did when I was a freshman, it falls short of being a successful, functioning research library.

If you’ve ever had to do research for an assignment at the St. John’s library, you’ve probably felt a certain level of frustration; I definitely have. The major complaint that I’ve heard from other students, and that I’ve encountered myself, is that books that are available on the library’s catalogue on St. John’s Central are missing from the shelves.

When this happens, library staff members can visit the closed stacks to see if the book is located there, but most of the time they come back empty-handed. The library
staff had to get rid of and move around many books before the renovations began, and a lot of them seem to have been lost in transition.

Students are not the only ones who have felt the effects and have complained, though. Last semester, for example, I overheard a professor state that she requested a book from the Staten Island campus; each time, she
received an e-mail stating that the book had been delivered to Queens. But each time she went to pick up the book, which she said she needed for her dissertation, no one could find it for her.

Because research is a staple of almost any college class, having a functioning library that contains a large amount of material and meets the needs of its students and professors is an absolute necessity at St. John’s.

For many St. John’s students, the library is a place to hang out and get coffee between classes, so it is not surprising
that St. John’s would remodel its library with more lounge space. Before the renovations, the most crowded
and noisy parts of the library were almost always the café and the lounge on the first floor.

But did the University really need to get rid of books to make way for more lounge space? The recently opened D’Angelo Center provides more than enough space for students to relax or hang out between classes
and easily could have filled this need.

In an April 2008 TORCH article, Theresa Maylone, university librarian, stated that in December 2007, the University set the deadline for weeding out books for May
2008. The library staff then found itself in need of completing this task sooner than it had expected.

Understandably, many professors said they were concerned about the library removing books, especially on such short notice, and were frustrated that they were not
consulted at the beginning of this process.

As an English major, it’s easy to see where these professors are coming from. Research is an essential component of higher-level English, as well as other liberal arts,
courses. Many of these classes center around a final paper that requires extensive preliminary work-students begin by perusing books and various other materials before
they can even begin writing. Therefore, students must have access to a large collection of material in order to
be able to do sufficient research. In order for the University to attract the best students and professors, it must be able to provide the most upto-date, comprehensive materials for conducting research.
Only then will St. John’s be able to seriously compete with other top universities in the country.