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The Political Science, Philosophy and Geography departments have been informed by the College of A&S Administration that their branch libraries (in Savery and Smith) have been targeted for conversion to T.A. offices before the beginning of Fall Quarter 1990. One of these libraries is the Edward L. Ullman Library, named after the distinguished geography professor, university administrator and noted public servant.
Administrators had discovered that the combined floor space of the three libraries happened to match the floor space needed for new programs (Evening Degree Program and the so-called Entry- Level Initiative). Until early January, the planning for this reallocation of square feet was done in secrecy, and even now, it is difficult to get access to crucial communications. If the plan is implemented, books and reference materials brought together over the past decades (in the case of the Geography Library since 1929) through the tireless efforts of devoted librarians, faculty and generations of graduate students would be so widely dispersed among remaining libraries and storage facilities, that the three collections, together with their respective service systems, would be effectively and permanently destroyed.
Affected users of the three libraries have not been consulted as to the academic costs of this dismantling of irreplaceable collections of resources. It appears that the impacts of the library closures on undergraduate, graduate, and research programs were not explored, at least not with the affected faculty. Students and faculty were able to write letters to administrators only after the plan had been fully developed, and even then without having access to relevant information. It appears, however, that there are enormous difficulties and significant and yet unspecified costs associated with the moving. and recoding of the books and reestablishing a minimum of services on such short notice (to say nothing about the costs of office conversion).
There are indications (but we really do not know) that alternative solutions have not yet been seriously pursued by the Administration. While the space shortage in the social sciences has been severe for some time, a variety of suitable spaces appear to be potentially available and could provide more appropriate and less costly offices until new space becomes available (e.g. as part of the University's 1O-year expansion plan).
Ultimately, it may be necessary, indeed desirable, to rethink the organization of the branch libraries from the point of view of achieving optimal arrangements and services for the 21st century. Such discussions should not be left only to administrators (including< departmental chairmen) or librarians, but, of course, should involve library users from the start. Such long-term reorganizations should have nothing to do with the present emergency situation which - according to an administrator - is based strictly on unforeseen space shortages associated with the foreseen implementation of the evening program and other expansions.