Monday, June 17

Editorial: Solutions for Powell need to be examined

Faced with a $1.9 million reduction in the system’s annual operating budget, administrators of the UCLA Library eliminated Night Powell, a service that kept study space in the College Library open 24 hours on most days.

The decision, which came packaged with a handful of possible cuts to other library facilities and services, is one that this editorial board respects, but also one that we respectfully reproach.

It is unthinkable that an academic institution as respected and rigorous as UCLA would not provide this service, especially in a campus culture that embraces round-the-clock work, study and play.

Access to 24-hour study spaces is expected by and necessary for college students. UCLA has provided this service in the past, and anything less would detract from the expected standard. And for many of us, there is simply no other time or place during which studying can be done.

The CLICC Lab provides computers and printing at all hours to students, many of whom cannot afford such resources individually. And while UCLA may not acknowledge it, closing Powell’s doors at night could displace homeless students who use the library for shelter; they will be the unheard victims of such cuts.

It is especially disheartening that the university has no visible plan to compensate for such drastic cuts. The board acknowledges that the recent drought in funding limits the alternatives, but cuts in funding should not also deplete the campus’ well of innovation.

In less than an hour, the Daily Bruin Editorial Board outlined a handful of possibilities that could potentially mitigate the detrimental effects of cutting library services.

Because Night Powell is not always used by the entire campus community, a subscription service, arranged through the BruinCard swipe system, could easily raise the necessary funding to keep the library open all night.

In fact, at an annual cost of $100,000, Night Powell could be saved for about $2.60 per person if spread evenly among UCLA’s 38,000 students. The change in your couch could save the service, and whether it came as a student-fee referendum or simply as a voluntary collection at the door, this board is certain that the UCLA community would support such a critical program.

Possible relocation provisions could easily be made by opening up alternative study spaces around campus in classrooms and conference rooms. This transfer could reduce operating costs, while still providing a 24-hour service.

There is little doubt that the call to eliminate library services was a difficult one for UCLA Librarian Gary Strong and others in the library’s chain of command. This board has confidence that alternative options were explored and given equal consideration before the decision was made.

But confidence is all we have. Library administrators have done little to make their struggles with recent cuts known to the UCLA community at large, and cutting crucial programs without involving the wider campus community deserves admonition. This board wishes both to console UCLA librarians and other administrators for our loss of funding and to demand that transparency and alternatives be provided immediately.

Unsigned editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily Bruin Editorial Board.

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