[Newsletter Alte Geschichte] WG: [Aegeanet] Fwd: Library crisis at UTexas

Vortragseinladungen und Ankündigungen im Bereich der Altertumswissenschaften news-altegeschichte at lists.univie.ac.at
Fr Mär 16 12:47:53 CET 2018

Dr. Birgitta Eder
Visiting Research Fellow at Merton College Oxford
(Hilary Term 2018)
birgitta.eder at merton.ox.ac.uk

Austrian Academy of Sciences
Institute for Oriental and European Archaeology
Hollandstraße 11-13
1020 Wien
Tel.: ++43 1 51581 6151


Von: Aegeanet <aegeanet-bounces at lists.ku.edu> im Auftrag von Dimitri Nakassis via Aegeanet <aegeanet at lists.ku.edu>
Gesendet: Donnerstag, 15. März 2018 20:02
An: AegeaNet
Betreff: [Aegeanet] Fwd: Library crisis at UTexas

Apologies for any cross-posting. Forwarding on behalf of Prof. Rabun Taylor (Department of Classics, University of Texas at Austin, rmtaylor at austin.utexas.edu<mailto:rmtaylor at austin.utexas.edu>):

Dear colleagues,

Please forgive this blanket email, but I feel it is justified in light of the extraordinary circumstances.

To my knowledge, the decision to remove an entire physical library from the campus of a Research 1 institution without any consultation of faculty or students is utterly unprecedented in recent American history.  Yet this is exactly what has happened at the University of Texas at Austin.  The stacks from the third and fourth floors of the Fine Arts Library are gone.  The additional decision by the Dean of Fine Arts to remove the remaining fifth floor of stacks (an additional 85,000 volumes, and close to 200,000 items total) is being vigorously challenged, but already the 75,000 print volumes and roughly 100,000 disks from the other floors have been permanently removed into storage facilities.  Tens of thousands (including all but five journals, the majority of them undigitized) appear to have been conveyed to the Joint Library Facility (JLF) in College Station, about 100 miles east of Austin.  The ownership status of these items is unclear; the facility website indicates that the JLF’s holdings become jointly owned by Texas A&M University, and that spare copies are “deduplicated.”  Vice Provost and Director of Libraries Lorraine Haricombe disputes any claims that the books and journals have gone into joint ownership, and she asserts that no items from UT-Austin are being destroyed.  However, further investigation has shown that they go to UT Surplus, which distributes them to charity or to Better World Books, where they are put up for sale.

The Fine Arts Library affair is exploding like a bomb among the faculty and students of College of Fine Arts, who have nevertheless been working diligently for almost a year to mitigate the damage.  The affair was roundly condemned at the College Art Association meeting earlier this month in Los Angeles and several articles about it have been published in the local, national, and international press.  In two days, a public petition has garnered over 1,500 signatures.

There is good reason to believe that the Fine Arts Library crisis, though it was precipitated by a particular set of circumstances in the College of Fine Arts—the rapid inauguration of a new school of “design and creative technologies” into the college without an adequate capital campaign to support new space—actually reflects a much deeper and broader culture of colonization and disruption within UT Libraries and central administration.  It seems likely that both entities countenanced, or even encouraged, this action.  But this is part of a bigger story.  Yesterday, word arrived that the University of Wisconsin at Madison is also planning to eliminate its renowned fine arts library.  The message conveyed by these actions is already well understood by anyone whose academic discipline resides in the arts and humanities.  We all have targets on our backs, and we find ourselves fighting rearguard battles to preserve the physical tools of our trade, first and foremost books.  But with foresight and solidarity, we can resist this global trend of bibliophobia and even reverse it.  Only a couple of hundred miles to our north, the University of Texas at Dallas is inaugurating a new Athenaeum with expanded library space and a physical collection augmented by an important private library.

I would encourage you to get informed about our situation at UT-Austin and spread the word widely among your colleagues and students.  The website includes much more information.


Also, there is a movement afoot called Save UT Libraries and a petition.  Please sign the petition and, if you’re so inclined, leave a comment.  Our resistance movement has many tools at its disposal, but one of the most powerful is the testimony of our colleagues around the world.


Please share this message widely.  Thanks for your time and consideration.

Rabun Taylor
Professor, Department of Classics
University of Texas at Austin

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