Reserved books misplaced

by Beacon Staff • February 27, 2008

An Emerson visual and media arts professor who wished to remain anonymous in order to continue putting books on reserve said she feels this semester has been worse than usual.,The number of books on reserve at Emerson's Iwasaki Library has significantly increased this semester, making it harder for the staff to get the right books to students and professor on time, according to library officials.

An Emerson visual and media arts professor who wished to remain anonymous in order to continue putting books on reserve said she feels this semester has been worse than usual.

"Books that are supposed to be there aren't or sometimes they are there but students working there just can't find them," the professor said. "Usually a few weeks into the semester they're able to work things out, but this time they haven't been able to."

Since spring 2006, the number of books on reserve has increased 23 percent, according to data compiled by the library's assistant circulation manager Ian Thistle.

This semester there are 978 items on reserve, as opposed to the 791 last spring.

Lighting design major Tracy Wertheimer said on her few visits to the reserve desk, the student worker was unable to find the books her professors set aside.

"It was supposed to be there, but she just couldn't find it on the shelves," the sophomore said. "The disorganization at that desk is so inconvenient to students who are trying to get their work done."

Junior Jenna Lashley, who said she uses the reserve desk often, said she sees most of the problems at the beginning of semesters.

"There's always some lack of communication between the library and professors," the marketing communication major said.

Reserve books cannot be checked out but can be borrowed by a student for two hours at a time for use inside the library.

When a book is missing after its alloted time out is up, the student who last used it is contacted, but after that it is "out of our control," library director Robert Fleming said.

Library staff will usually wait three weeks before ordering another copy of the missing book, Fleming said, and typically does not hold more than one copy of each book at the reserve desk.

"The library doesn't like to order more copies of books that are missing because we can usually get them back," he said. "We want to spend our money wisely."

Thistle said there is no official record of students' and professors' complaints and encouraged those unhappy with the reserve desk to air their grievances on the library's bulletin board.

Library staff can respond by posting the answers underneath the complainants note on the board. Thistle said most complaints are handled verbally and that he doesn't know of any policy the library has ever had to record them.

Cinematography major Kaylin Kiekwein said she has witnessed the reserve desk's disorganization.

"I went to the reserve desk for my health and nutrition class, and when I gave the student working the name of the class and call number, she couldn't find the book," the sophomore said. "She went through the shelves but still couldn't find it."

SGA president Scott Fisher also expressed his exasperation with the library.

He said he feels students shouldn't have to wait for the reserve desk to find their one copy or until another student finishes using it.

Fisher, a sophomore visual and media arts major, said he intends to speak with dean of students Ron Ludman about why the library does not use money in its budget to purchase more than one copy of each reserved book.

Fleming said he preferred to look at the overall student body rather than individuals.

"The need of the greater student population is more important than just one student," he said. "This library tries hard to be fair and student-focused."