Libraries weigh merger of five units’ resources

By Ebonique Wool

The University is considering merging five of its libraries to make research easier within the Area Studies Division.

The proposal for this consolidation was made in Fall 2007 as part of a “New Service Model,” said Scott Walter, associate University librarian for services and associate dean of libraries.

In three campuswide town hall meetings that concluded earlier this month, the University listened to the ideas and concerns of the campus community on the service model.

The five units within the Area Studies Division in the University Library include the Africana Library, Afro-Americana Library, Asian Library, Latin American & Caribbean Library and Slavic & East European Library.

“We’re looking at new ways in which they might both pool their resources and their expertise together in such a way as to provide better service to our faculty, staff and student users,” Walter said.

However, some students said they prefer the separation of the libraries.

“Our University is big; it should have its own Asian library,” said Tianxin Guo, graduate student. “I think the Asian Library is like a home for us to study and look for books.”

Jose Miguel Ruiz, freshman in FAA, uses the Latin American & Caribbean Library and said he likes having the separate rooms for different subjects.

“I think they’re fine the way they are,” Ruiz said. “I feel like it would lose a lot of the specialization if it was all together.”

The process of accepting suggestions on how to improve the library began in August and lasted until October.

Based on which of the proposals were viable in terms of work that could be completed, reasonably, within the next one to three years, the amount of proposals was decreased from 70 to 24 or 25, Walter said.

This list of proposals was disseminated to the University in November with the merger of the Area Studies Libraries as one of the proposals being considered.

“It’s been identified as potentially worth pursuing and viable in terms of a project that could be pursued within the resources available to us within the next few years,” Walter said.

This proposal focused on how the University could highlight the distinctive strength of the Library and help to integrate the terms of use for foreign language materials and services into the teaching resources and service mainstream of the University campus.

The concerns people have had about this merger include how it will be done, its time frame and its location, Walter said.

“Because we haven’t decided to do it (yet), we haven’t gone down that path,” he said. “We’re moving forward on the basis of the feedback we’ve received.”

Walter added that the implementation of the proposal would have no bearing on whether or not the University would hire a specialist in the future, for example.

“This proposal has nothing to do with our commitment to our personnel and staff and our commitment to our collections,” he said.

The University Library estimates it will have a rough draft of the final report of proposals it wants to pursue by spring break.