August 19, 2009
University of California, Los Angeles
Dear Mr. Strong:
This letter is intended to express our outrage and dismay at the impending closure of the Arts Library, an entity that is unique on the West Coast in its offerings and resources. As instructors—at UCLA and beyond—in the arts, architecture, art history, film, television, theater and the humanities we all see the UCLA Arts Library as an indispensable resource to fulfill our pedagogical mission. As creators and researchers we all see the UCLA Arts Library as a critical part of our respective practices. Furthermore, a dedicated arts collection is a staple of all great universities public and private. On all of these levels 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.
Those who did not see the closure of the Arts Library buried in your blog entry of August 4, 2009 found out about it though word of mouth, Facebook, email and water cooler rumors. The lack of any effort on the part of library management to consult arts and humanities faculty about these plans points to a lack of transparency in the library’s operations that we find most troubling. This lack of transparency is further underscored by library management’s failure to consult with the UCLA Academic Senate Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication on this critical issue.
If the Arts Library closes, it is impossible to see how YRL and SRLF, facilities that are already bursting at the seams, can accommodate an additional 180,000+ objects. Given that in YRL’s renovations accommodations are being made for meeting spaces—including a café “with seating area and service counter”—it is even more difficult to imagine how the Arts Library’s collections can possibly be brought into this building. We are deeply concerned that once the Arts Library closes its doors that its collections—some of which are singular to this library—will be dispersed and rendered inaccessible. We are equally concerned that the library’s excellent staff will disappear with its collections.
We understand the seriousness of the budget situation; we understand that over 85% of the library’s operating budget comes from 19900 funds; we understand that library management, like the rest of the university, has had to make enormously difficult and painful decisions regarding reductions. We do not understand library management’s failure to apprise the Senate Library Committee—on which you sit—of its plans before a decision was reached; we do not understand library management’s failure to consult arts and humanities faculty as a means of discussing the repercussions of this closure or to come up with more tenable solutions to this crisis; we do not understand library management’s failure to communicate its decision (or the process in its making) directly to the UCLA community. Such secrecy and opacity gives the impression that the Arts Library closure was to be presented at the beginning of the school year as a fait accompli. This is simply not acceptable.
We protest the closure of the Arts Library. We demand that you hold an open meeting on this serious issue for interested faculty and students at the beginning of fall quarter. At the end of the day, we are deeply invested in the Arts Library, and we look forward to coming up with a solution that will keep this vital institution in operation.
3 hours ago