UC Berkeley's Libraries Next Chapter May Be Cuts

Ann McClure's picture
Tuesday, June 19, 2012

UC Berkeley ranks among the five best universities on the planet in part because an engineering researcher there has no trouble finding the gravity study he needs from the 1970s. An art historian doesn't have to be in Japan to lay his hands on a 128-year-old Kyoto guidebook. And a French scholar can examine a certain 16th century manuscript on European literary academies, no problem.

Yet the great university's libraries are in trouble.

"We can already see negative impacts on the services we provide, as we stretch our reduced staffing," University Librarian Tom Leonard wrote in an April letter to faculty. He then surveyed them to see if they preferred closing 16 of the 24 campus-supported libraries or just 10, but with fewer librarians.

Leonard expected to announce the libraries' fate in July. Instead, the faculty objected to being told they had just two choices for the wondrous athenaeums: horrible or terrible.

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