Friday, March 22

UCLA Library cuts are necessary to save money

Elimination of Night Powell, Arts Library is an appropriate response to budget shortfall

For those students who love to spend late nights studying at Powell or perusing the shelves of the Arts Library, you might have to find something else to do.

There are plans to end Night Powell, a program that allows students to study through the night, and two libraries: the Arts and Chemistry libraries.

Gary Strong, university librarian, announced in an open letter to the UCLA community the plans to reduce hours to “Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed on Saturday and open Sunday 1 to 6 p.m.,” cutting the Night Powell program.

In addition, there are plans to have “study teams … appointed to examine the service and collection issues associated with closing the Arts and Chemistry libraries.”

As a result, students have expressed their anger with the decision and have organized petitions and Facebook groups to protest. However, these cuts are necessary to reduce pre-existing costs.

Fourth-year world arts and cultures student Wes Pinkham, a co-founder of the growing Facebook group “Save the UCLA Arts Library,” said that he felt a strong frustration with the UCLA Library because no one has been eager to work with students and faculty to find ways around the cuts.

Pinkham also expressed the special needs for the books in the Arts Library: Because of the nature of the art books, they need to be browsed through.

More than 3,860 signatures on and more than 3,760 members of the “Save the UCLA Arts Library” Facebook group indicate disappointment with the decision to cut the Arts Library.

While the Arts Library and Night Powell are important parts of the library system, the cuts are necessary in order to save other, more essential parts of the library.

Although the Arts Library will not be directly open to students, the books will still be available within the library system for students to access.

As for Night Powell, students who are unable to find another place to study at night may have to resort to using their dorms or apartments and earplugs ““ surely a compromise, but a solution that could save the school a fair amount of money.

The main priority of the library is the maintenance of its collection through “(preserving) access to highly used and unique print and electronic resources.” This goal suggests that the cuts to Night Powell and the Arts Library are outside of that priority to preserve access to essential resources.

With a $1.8 million budget shortfall, programs that do not focus on the upkeep of the library collections must be cut.

The final decision comes down to what will be cut, not if something will be cut. If cutting these programs are an efficient way to save money, then their removal is necessary.

So while I grudgingly approve of the cuts, we should at least learn from our misfortune.

In the future, cutting projects ““ such as the $12 million remodeling of the first floor of the Young Research Library ““ may ease budget woes.

Remodeling is an important part of campus maintenance, but to spend $12 million on a plan to “provide a reading room, research commons, group study rooms, an exhibit gallery, conference room and other facilities,” when other student programs and classes are being cut, is a misappropriation of funds.

In the end, we cannot have an unbalanced budget and cuts have to be made. The current debate illustrates the difficulties in deciding where to make the cuts, and reminds us that we have to tighten our belts everywhere. We’ve already spent years cutting class funding. If classes aren’t safe, nothing is ““ not even libraries.

Hopefully the library, students and faculty can work together to decide what has to stay open, what can be stored elsewhere and what resources can be let go.

While we will experience some temporary pain from the closures, we can look forward to bringing these programs back when money comes back to UCLA. Until then, all we can do is brace ourselves.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated fourth-year student Wes Pinkham’s field of study. He is a world arts and cultures student.

E-mail Feeney at [email protected] Send general comments to [email protected]

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