EDIT: I just talked with a library employee who gave a perspective + some info I found worth including in this post – click through the jump to see my additions.
So, how about that whole Art Library closing thing? Were you invited to that party? No? Didn’t even hear about it? Had enough questions? Read on:
That’s right, y’all: it’s been brought to my attention, through email and face2face conversation, that apparently our administration is moving forward with a plan to close the Art Library at its current location by 2014, consolidate its holdings into Olin (where some of them already reside), and as part of the process weed out quite a few books. Here are a few reasons (some) students and faculty are opposed to this plan going forward:
- The current plan seems to be to have the Art Library’s holdings moved to Olin by May 2014.
- The Art Library has some of Wesleyan’s most valuable items in its collection, with special oversight that they may not receive in Olin. Also, having the Art Library in the Center for the Arts seems intuitively appealing.
- A dozen student jobs will be removed, and the time and energy spent on moving the books is likely to add more to the plates of people who already have work to do.
- Maybe the most important point is that this plan appears to be going forward without any input from students. If you’re not okay with decisions about resources we use being made without asking (or even announcing, really), this might be a meeting worth attending.
The points above are assembled from information provided directly by students, including current Art Library employees and a student representative on the Faculty Library Committee (so, indirectly, library staff and faculty as well).
Interested? Attend the response planning meeting Tuesday (tomorrow) night, at 10 PM in the UOC (between Beta and Eclectic). Maybe you think the planned consolidation is actually a good idea. If so, your perspective might be even more valuable. Also, if you’d like to be included in the email discussion, feel free to email yours truly.
Tuesday edit: Alright, y’all. So as I mentioned above, I had a (for me) very informative chat with a library employee, regarding both hir own position on the closing/consolidation and some of the facts of the project. Ze agreed to let me mention these here.
I thought it might be best to start by mentioning that the Art Library’s current (main) location does have issues of its own. There’s almost no space for new books, and humidity is hard to control – apparently there’ve been times when the library closed because of it. Installing proper air control systems would be quite tricky and costly, especially for such an old building (the Alsop House that’s also a part of the Davison Art Center is a historical landmark). The main conclusion I drew from hir comments on the Art Library was that, from multiple angles, it appears to be increasingly costly to sustain, and someone somewhere ended up deciding moving much of the collection to Olin was the solution. However, whether one is looking for a way to keep the library where it is or just wants to make sure that any major effort to relocate the collections is done carefully and sensibility, ze thought that as a community we need to think more creatively about any potential solutions – and assimilating the archives into Olin (at the cost of 60,000 of Olin’s current holdings) is probably not the best way to do that.
I also was told that the weeding project is currently only being done for Olin’s collection (and later on, the Science Library) – not the Art Library, which implies some sense of the importance of its holdings. In fact, there’s actually a pretty substantial degree of transparency as far as the weeding project goes. WesWeeding, which Wesleying China Correspondent DMZ linked to in the comments, is a blog run primarily by Pat Tully, University Librarian. This post is a detailed summary of the background, genesis, and road map for the current weeding project. The “about” page includes a list of the members of the Weeding Committee (with email addresses) and the initial weeding criteria (a couple examples: the book hasn’t circulated since 2003; the book is held by at least two of the University’s partner libraries). The most recent post listed some collections that were up for weeding, and was updated to reflect that, thanks to input (see the comments), some of the collections will be retained, at least in this first round. I highly recommend you check out the blog. If we care about this project, it only helps to be well-informed, and if the blog is any indication, the library staff is likely to be responsive At the moment, though, it’s not publicly known what the level of involvement is from other administrators.