Individual Statements

Statement by UT Prof. Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, Alice Drysdale Sheffield Professor of History

“The debate over the Fine Arts Library ought to be one of accountability: how is it possible that a special collection library of national distinction that took decades to build has been destroyed without consultation? This is the crux of the matter, not whether books circulated or not. We have a number of special collections on campus that no one on campus would dare to touch (and destroy) regardless of whether crowds of students visit them: Ransom, Benson, Briscoe, and the Tarlton Law Libraries. These are collections that took decades to build. The proper response vis-a-vis these collections is the exact opposite than the one taken by the Dean of Fine Arts and the Vice-provost for Libraries. No one doubts that storage and retrieval are needed for these collections as they grow. But it is an entirely different thing to box their holdings in crates and ship them away to storage facilities in order to repurpose their buildings. On the contrary, administrators fund these institutions so their collections are used by specialists worldwide via conferences and grants. We need to move the debate away from issues of circulation and storage to a debate over accountability: who ordered the destruction of one of the finest special collections on campus? Who gave these individual such power? Finally, given what is going on, I call for the Faculty Council to demand that special collections of world-wide significance like the Benson be declared autonomous and separated from the General Library system whose administration colluded in the destruction of one of the most distinguished fine arts special collections in the country.”

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