Angered UCLA faculty rallies to save arts library
August 19, 2009 | 11:15 am
Culture Monster reported Saturday that UCLA is considering closing down its arts library and merging the collection with an existing facility because of an overall budget shortfall at the university.
The news has provoked strong responses from local academics and now faculty members at UCLA have started an online campaign to save the library.
"Our goal is to keep the library open but also to demand more transparency," Steven Nelson, an associate professor in UCLA's Department of Art History, said in an interview this morning.
Nelson and George Baker, also a professor in the art history department, have launched a Facebook page and an online petition intended to rally support for the library. In less than a day, the petition has attracted more than 350 signatures from all over the world.
In addition, they have sent a formal letter to university librarian Gary Strong, signed by 69 faculty
members and others.
"It is unconscionable that this library, one that services the myriad needs of hundreds of faculty and thousands of students in some of our nation’s best departments in the arts and humanities could even be considered for closure," they wrote.
Nelson said the UCLA library system currently is operating near capacity and that there will likely be no room to absorb the arts collection once the facility closes.
"There is nowhere to put the books and what will happen is that they will become inaccessible," he said.
"There's a history of the arts library as being unimportant in UCLA. There has to be a different attitude on this space. Once that collection disperses, the expertise will go too."
A formal decision about the fate of the arts library is expected in the fall or winter, according to the university.
Nelson said he hopes to organize a meeting with university leaders, including Chancellor Gene Block, to discuss the fate of the library.
-- David Ng
Photo: A view of the UCLA campus. Credit: Stephanie Diani