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UCLA has arts library on chopping block

August 15, 2009 |  9:45 am


Facing drastic budget reductions this year, UCLA has begun implementing cuts across its departments to make up for an estimated $131-million shortfall. Among the proposed victims is one of Los Angeles' largest cultural resources -- the arts library on the Westwood campus.

The university has confirmed that it is looking at eliminating the library, which contains more than 270,000 volumes in the fields of art, architecture, design, film, television, theater and more. If the plan is approved, UCLA will shut down the arts library in the Public Policy Building and move some of the collection to a facility shared with another library.

"This doesn't mean we would stop serving the arts community," said Gary Strong, the university's head librarian. "We would do this from a different location. The fact is that we cannot support all of the separate libraries that we currently have."

Strong added that UCLA's chemistry library is also under consideration for elimination. No layoffs from the library staff are currently planned, he said, declining to elaborate on any other plans. "I don't know what's next in terms of the budget."

The UCLA library system supports 12 facilities on an annual operating budget of about $40 million, according to the university. A spokeswoman at UCLA said study teams are being organized to examine the operational effect of closing the arts and chemistry branches. "What will not change, however, is the Library’s steadfast focus on offering collections and services," she said in a statement.

The entire UC system is experiencing budget cuts of more than $800 million across its 10 campuses. A final decision about the fate of the arts and chemistry libraries is expected this fall or winter. The last branch to close was the physics library in 2003.

-- David Ng

Photo: One of the libraries at UCLA. Credit: Stephanie Diani