20 December 2008

New School Libraries' Obscure Future

The New School student occupation of their Graduate Faculty building ended early yesterday morning with President Bob Kerrey's capitulation to some of their demands. Of particular interest is point number two:
I agree that students may use the GF building at 65 Fifth Ave until a suitable replacement is secured and instituted, which would include the re-installment of suitable library and study space. This would need to be approved by the USS.

Due to my limitation under the board, and because of repeated and voiced student concern about the university's investments, this is already underway for alternative space. I guarantee that by the beginning of spring semester I will provide new library space in Arnold hall. I will also provide 7000 feet of quiet study space at Sheila Johnson galleries by the end of spring semester. I agree to meet with the students to discuss the current plans, alternatives, and financial planning.

The new library space in Arnhold Hall was already scheduled to open January 20 (see Interim University Librarian Ed Scarcelle's comments on my previous post). Kerrey's promise of additional study space is, if acted upon, a significant accomplishment by the protesters that will benefit the entire student body. Considering the severity of the study space deficit, however, 7000 square feet is hardly sufficient. (If you're having trouble visualizing this, think Bowery Ballroom-size.)

More than half of Fogelman's collection is now in offsite storage. This makes sense, given that the Arnhold Hall space is temporary. In preparation for the move, however, only a tiny portion of the physical collection was available to students during the fall semester and, critically, during their finals period.

The new building to be constructed on the GF building's footprint will include a larger, centralized library facility that may merge Fogelman with the Gimbel Art & Design Library and the Kellen Archives Center. All of this is tentative, however: according to this article in the New School Free Press, construction plans for the "Signature Building" have been downsized and delayed indefinitely. With a future this uncertain, it's no wonder New School students are angry, frustrated, disheartened....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I certainly sympathize with the students. I got a tour of the Gimbel Library. And while good the space for materials is inadequate, the room allotted to instruction is pathetic, and the staff are tucked away in a rabbit warren of rooms and hallways that I would not want to be in in an emergency. Everyone should be concerned. And if the Gimbel is like that, what are the other libraries like? Yikes! Let's hope they all come to some doable solutions once they get back from the break.