Submission: Massive Library Consolidation Without Consultation

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By Professor Emeritus Michael Nauenberg, UCSC Physics

In your article entitled “Library Purges Print Collection” in the April 21 issue of City On A Hill Press, the interim Executive Vice Chancellor, Herbie Lee, is quoted as saying that “there definitely was an attempt by the library to consult the faculty” about this purge. But this statement is demonstrably false. Neither I, nor any of my colleagues in the Physics Department, and in other Science Departments were consulted about this purge. Last summer, a few days before the purge started, I went to the library to check out a couple of journals from the Lick collection. Normally one is allowed to keep them for a few days only, but to my surprise I was told that I could keep them during the entire summer. When I asked why, I was told that the library would be closed for “repairs” because the roof was leaking. Evidently, to keep this purge secret from faculty and students, even the staff librarians had not been informed of it until one day before it began to be put into effect. This fact is verified by the date, June 9, 2016, that appeared on a memorandum from the head librarian Elizabeth Cowell to staff librarians about “a major consolidation of the collection” shown during my presentation.

Furthermore, four months after the Academic Senate passed a resolution signed by over 55 faculty that calls on the University Librarian to commit that such an action will not be repeated, and that the Academic Senate will be adequately consulted and the faculty informed before making significant changes to the on-campus collections and archives of the University Library, our campus EVC Lee ignored this resolution. Instead, he announced plans for a “reimaged” S&E Library” that includes a café and kitchen facilities, but only a skeleton of nine stacks for printed books. Meanwhile, a visit to the campus bookstore reveals that many faculty still require students to buy printed textbooks for their courses.