Plans for Main Library demolition discussed during public meeting
December 11, 2018
An overview of the plans to demolish part of the Main Library and replace it with services students can utilize for books, collaborations and other purposes was addressed at the public meeting held by the Senate Committee on the Library on Thursday.
Meetings are usually open to the public, but faculty and others were explicitly invited to the most recent meeting, said Catherine Gray, associate professor in the English department, in an email.
John Wilkin, dean of libraries and University librarian, attended the meeting to talk about the remodel.
“We wanted to give (attendees) the opportunity to hear Dean Wilkin talk about this proposed remodel of both the Main and Undergraduate libraries and to ask questions or express concerns,” Gray said.
Gray said the point of the remodel is to create a “research hub” for humanities and social sciences.
“As undergraduate services would move to the Main Library, the current Undergraduate Library would be changed to become the place for rare books and special collections,” she said.
Gray said at this point, there are three main concerns from the humanities faculty.
“First, they’re worried that, despite being some of the key stakeholders in the library, they’ve not yet been actively involved enough in the planning process,” she said.
Because of this concern, the faculty have asked for strong representation on the working groups and committees that will make key decisions about the project, she said.
“Second, they’re concerned about the numbers of books that have been or will be moved to offsite storage facilities like Oak Street, where they are less accessible and can’t be browsed,” Gray said. “Third, they’re worried about how the move of some of our most rare and expensive books to the current Undergraduate Library will be funded and carried out.”
Gray said some students, graduate and undergraduate, have expressed their concern that they have not been consulted about these proposed changes.
“Some of the undergraduates have told us that they don’t want to see the Undergraduate Library changed, for example, and graduate students have asked to be included in discussions about the plan,” Gray said.
She said she hoped the meeting would provide another forum for faculty and students to voice their concerns or questions.
Wilkin assured there will be a campus-wide committee, which will include faculty from the humanities and social sciences, Gray said.
“I am not yet sure what specific plans he has for broadly consulting with graduate and undergraduate students, though he has mentioned a desire to do so,” Gray said.
The Senate Committee on the Library plans to regularly discuss the project and hold three to four meetings each semester.
“So we really do encourage students and faculty with questions or concerns to contact the committee,” Gray said.
The committee can be contacted through the University Library at 217-333-0790 or at 1408 W. Gregory Dr., Urbana.