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Long Term Goal: A Maharishi Sthapatya Ved Library    
How much would it cost to build a vastu Library? To do it right (rough estimate): $15-20 M. Why?
  1. Libraries have special requirements. Books are still very much a part of libraries and are likely to be so for many years, since the cost of a print version is still much lower than an online database, and once one has a book, it is ours in  perpetuity whereas article databases are rented for large sums. Once the contract is discontinued, the entire collection is no longer available, no matter how many years we have been paying for the service.
  2. Books require a building that is structurally strong enough to hold them and to handle the pressure of traffic in the book stacks.
  3. The building needs to be on high ground, well above danger of flood or water seepage. 
  4. Converting to a vastu library will take planning and care: we are beginning to consider a question also being considered in other libraries--in a digital age, what is an appropriate size for an academic library? How many books are needed? What new space considerations have become important? Many academic libraries being built at present become "Learning Centers," and house classrooms conveniently in the library, which offers additional research assistance, ready access to books, databases, and other materials, and also access to desktop computers. Research shows that students still prefer desktop models for doing their research.
  5. Another issue for academic libraries in a changing environment: what to weed out of the collection? How much weeding will result in a collection that is maximally useful to researchers? Technology for handling large groups of file (e.g., BitTorrent) can allow large numbers of books to be removed from the several databases in the weeding process, but it still takes time and consideration to decide what to weed, to locate the materials, and to remove them. The University of Iowa is also addressing a related side-effect of weeding that can impact the academic community in the state and nation: the "last resort" consideration for books. Suppose that your library has the last book that is readily available through inter-library loan. What will become of your own inter-library loan service if you weed its best materials out of existence? MUM Interlibrary Loan is well regarded in the state of Iowa because we do have some unusual books that no one else has. 
  6. Moving a library is another challenge and must be outsourced. Why: the books need to be put in order in special long boxes that preserve the order (otherwise it would be a very big project to reorganize the books, even if we only move half of the books we now own. We have about 140,000 books in MUM Library). 
What we are doing now:
  1. We are beginning to aggressively identify the books that are not being used and to remove them. Last year we cut out many shelves of outdated computer programming books. This year we cut the old reference collection substantially in order to make room for the new writing center.
  2. We have also created a new donations policy for old books. Many people think of the library when they are trying to decide what to do with outdated materials, but this does not necessarily result in a collection that is balanced and serviceable. Our new policy addresses this issue.
  3. This weeding activity has another benefit: it will eventually end up with a library with a greater proportional number of current books.
  4. We also have this material up to begin a discussion of what it will take to do it well. Vastu is currently the plan, but it is a long-term plan or 15-20 or even 30 years.
  5. We continue to maintain this building: in the past three years we have replaced the roofing, put in wider sidewalks, and we have plans to replace the 50 year old carpeting. The university is also replacing the air conditioning system (the old one has already been removed), and we have some foundation repairs to take care of right away. 
  6. Here is a discussion point: do we want to beautify and modernize the library in a more complete and systematic way, so that the current generation of students has the best possible learning experience? If that appeals to you, please see our current wish list for improving the current building (next article)--further suggestions for the current building are welcome.
Why keep the current building for now    
1. MUM Library is in a strongly constructed building that is basically in good shape. It is the strongest building on campus and the most tornado-safe. It is also well situated for a library, on a hill, and therefore above any chance of flood, with reduced chance of mold or mildew.

2. We are in a time of transition for libraries, but where the transition is going is not yet fully determined. Books are still very much part of libraries and will not disappear; they are a technology that can be easily made sustainable—they can be made of renewable resources. People still prefer to read them instead of digital materials--they are user-friendly and also are better for the eyes.

3. Books are also heavy. There are no building codes in our area except for K-12 Libraries, but to build a library without taking into account the structural and infrastructural requirements invites many expensive future problems. Some people have mentioned compact shelving as a solution to the smaller space offered to curb expenses of Vastu buildings. Compact shelving is only put in the lowest floor of a library, due to the possibility of creating too much stress on the building. It must be on a cement floor or similarly strong floor. It also breaks down after about 25 years of regular use and must be replaced.

4. Cost: to build a Vastu library and do it right (rough estimate): $15-20 M. It requires a building that is structurally strong enough to handle the pressure of books, traffic, etc. Vastu projects could be done at lower cost for nearly everything else on campus, and 20 M would go a long way to support the Pandits. There are greater priorities for Vastu at this time.

5. This library could last for a long time and be made a pleasant place for students to study and meet. And when the direction of society is clear, then building a great, sustainable, and truly serviceable Vastu library that meets long-term well-defined needs would be appropriate.
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