Board of Visitors announce plans to cut Alderman book collection by 99 percent

Humor Columnist Jakob Cansler reports on plans to renovate Alderman Library in the coming years


The new renovations are estimated to cost nearly $160 million, or roughly the equivalent of the Class of 2018’s student loan debt.

Christina Anton | Cavalier Daily

After a lengthy 20-minute meeting on Thursday morning, the Board of Visitors announced that they had officially approved plans to renovate Alderman Library in the coming years. The renovations are set to include a reduction in Alderman’s current book collection by about 99 percent. The only books that will remain housed in Alderman will be the 114 volume collection of “The Stormy North: The True Story of the Finnish Navy and Their Quest to find the Mythical Polka-Dotted Herring.”

A spokesperson for the project told The Cavalier Daily the main reasons behind the changes had to do with efficiency. 

“Our goal is to create a library in which students don’t have to do a lot of digging to get the books they actually need. We did a lot of research into what books students are actually using, and we found that really the only books that are read consistently are the ones about the Finnish navy and their quest to find the mythical polka-dotted herring. Of course there’s the occasional nerd who checks out a book on India’s political economy in the 1940s or someone who wants to read War and Peace in 12 different languages, but those students are outliers. The polka-dotted herring is what students really want,” the spokesperson said. 

This announcement comes just days after an online petition circulated through U.Va. listservs calling for literally every single book ever to continue to be housed in U.Va.’s largest library. The petition managed to garner over 500 signatures, a whopping 2 percent of U.Va.’s faculty and student population. 

“We’re not asking for the world here,” the petition reads. “All we want is for books to be given the same rights as humans. These books have served the University well over the past 200 years, and they deserve to be housed in Alderman forever, even if they haven’t been used since Edgar Allan Poe was a student. We don’t want to sound entitled, but we were accepted into this prestigious university. We deserve this.”

Despite the best efforts of this petition, the Board of Visitors still elected to move forward with the renovations. 

“On a certain level, we understand why these students and faculty members are upset about these renovations,” a member of the Board told The Cavalier Daily. “It’s hard to lose access to so many books that are literally never used. However, on a much deeper, more honest level, we really just do not care.”

The new renovations are estimated to cost nearly $160 million, or roughly the equivalent of the Class of 2018’s student loan debt. 

During the announcement of the renovations, the Board also revealed more precise details on what these renovations will entail. The current plan is to take all of the books in Alderman, and give them to Lawn residents to use in their fireplaces, rather than the firewood they are normally given. 

“Here at U.Va., we’re all about sustainability,” a spokesperson said, “and if burning these books will save dozens of trees from being cut down, then I think the payoff is more than worth it.” 

Slated to begin in 2020, the project will most likely be completed long after anyone who is currently at U.Va. actually cares about it anymore.

The official plans for the renovation will be presented for approval to the Virginia General Assembly in 2019, because apparently that’s a thing that still happens.

Jakob Cansler is a Humor Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at

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