The End: After 30 years, geography librarian packs up books

Sydney Widell:

Where rows of books once rested, shelves are beginning to collect dust in the Science Hall Geography Library. Tom Tews, campus geography librarian, has spent the last three months dismantling the collection he’s maintained over the last 30 years of his career.

The library closed its doors more than half a semester ago, one of the first spaces to be eliminated as part of UW-Madison’s plan to consolidate its library system. Today, at first glance, the space looks roughly the same. The long tables in the reading room are still inviting places to study, and as always, Tews is a familiar presence in his corner office.

But the computers are gone and and most of the furniture has been taken to storage or redistributed across campus. Cardboard boxes full of books are piled on the floor, and in the stacks, the shelves are bare.

“It’s been hard to see that what I did for the last 30 years is not going to continue,” Tews said. “Not that it’s right or wrong, it just is.”

Now that the library is closed, Tews divides his time between the College Library Circulation Desk and curating the digital geography collection. He is working fewer hours, but he said he is alright with the change.