COLUMBIA, Mo. – A University of Missouri faculty committee says it no longer has confidence in the director of the university’s libraries after about 190,000 books, documents and journals that were damaged by mold were destroyed.
The libraries director, Jim Cogswell, acknowledged that he should have communicated better with the committee but says the destroyed materials were duplicates or documents that will be replaced, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported.
The 188,000 items that were destroyed were among 629,000 materials damaged by mold while being stored off campus.
Since the problem was discovered in 2013, almost $850,000 has been spent to clean up 441,000 items, using mostly the library’s self-insurance reserve fund, Cogswell said in a report to an ad hoc Faculty Council committee.
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Of the destroyed documents, 108,000 will be replaced with the help of the $400,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation, and library leaders have access to replacement copies of federal documents.
The destruction began before a Faculty Council meeting at which Cogswell assured faculty members he would consult them in any decisions about disposal of volumes.
When committee members learned about the destruction of materials, they sent a letter to Faculty Council Chairman Craig Roberts calling Cogswell’s lack of communication an “egregious violation” of trust.
“We should have done better in saying that the only books that were going to be destroyed were duplicates,” Cogswell said Monday. “But I make no apologies for the outcome.” He said more than 70 percent of the damaged items have been treated.
“This is the best possible outcome,” he said. “I don’t see how anyone can fault us for only destroying duplicates.”
A follow-up letter from the committee to the Faculty Council chair said committee members have lost confidence in Cogswell’s judgment and urged the council to ether request a detailed accounting of the destruction or “consider proposing a vote of no confidence in the Director of Libraries.”