(Downloadable PDF version: School of Music Faculty Statement)
October 26, 2017
Dear Dean Dempster,
We were pleased to receive your letter of October 18, which addressed the serious concerns that have been raised about the future of the Fine Arts Library as an independent branch of the UT library system. We were reassured to hear that you share the high value that the students, faculty, and staff place upon the Fine Arts Library as both a space and a collection. We could not agree more with your description of it as a “treasure” whose accessibility “is non-negotiable.”
While your letter addressed a number of questions we have about the library’s future, it left many others unresolved. Key among these is the question of “how nearby and how concentrated” the collection needs to be in order to fulfill the College’s educational and research mission.
We are of the belief that maintaining the Fine Arts Library in its present location and size is critically important and equally non-negotiable. Dispersing the collection or displacing it to another site would do irreparable harm to COFA. The viability of all the programs housed in the College would be jeopardized, not just the traditional ones in Music, Theater and Dance, and Art and Art History, but the new School of Design and Creative Technologies as well.
There are numerous reasons why any further dismantling of the Fine Arts Library would be detrimental to the future of COFA, too many to list in a single letter. Among the most serious we wish to highlight are the following:
Relocating and/or further downsizing FAL will irreparably damage our national research profile and negatively affect our ability to retain existing faculty and to recruit top undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty.
A distant location of FAL is a cost placed on existing faculty and students that will negatively impact productivity. In essence, relocating FAL means that faculty and students are being asked to pay with their time to free up space for other uses.
Relocating FAL will inevitably make it less accessible, which would greatly impact our students and faculty with mobility issues. Physical copies of books, scores, and journals are also more accessible to individuals with technology-induced anxiety.
The library is a physical space for intellectual discovery, and, for many of us, is akin to part of our laboratory. It is inefficient to have parts of our laboratory widely dispersed.
Having the physical materials of the FAL collection in close proximity to classroom space is necessary for introducing undergraduates to research methods in music.
Online resources have not replaced the need for easy access to physical sources. The removal of journals, CDs, and DVDs from FAL has already seriously disrupted many of our teaching and research practices.
Copyright means that scores published after 1923 are generally not available digitally. Relocating FAL or placing scores in storage will make them more difficult to access for teaching, encourage poor scholarship, and increase the likelihood that faculty and studentswill need to resort to questionable means to obtain the materials they need, opening the university to potential legal liability.
The paper medium of scores, books, and journals often cannot be adequately replaced by digital copies, a fact that courses in digital humanities routinely recognize. Reasons physical copies remain integral to teaching, performing, and research include:
A physical library is a robust archival technology in the face of rapid technological change. The library owns the items in the physical collection, whereas it mostly rents digital items through subscriptions. The chances of items disappearing from collection due to increasing subscription costs are extremely high.
Recent studies have called into question the efficacy of electronic texts for students’ acquisition and retention of concepts.
An open stack library search yields different connections than online search.
Many older journals have not been digitized and research often requires access to runs of journals rather than individual volumes. It is not very practical to order runs of journals from storage.
Many scores do not reproduce well due to size.
The COFA mission statement declares a commitment to “community engagement.” FAL, as a space open to the general public and to international scholars without parallel in the region, represents one of the key arenas where the College fulfills its obligation to engage with the broader community.
We find it encouraging that you have decided to convene two working groups, one to address the future of the Fine Arts Library, the other to study the allocation of space within COFA. This is a positive step, especially given the lack of prior consultation with students, faculty, and staff about the significant changes that have already been made to the library space. But it is precisely the lack of transparency to date that gives us pause. We therefore respectfully request that representatives chosen by all of the library’s major stakeholders, including student, faculty, and staff, be included as part of these working groups; and that no decision be made about further renovations of FAL and/or relocation of its materials without the approval of such representative bodies.
We remain as committed as ever to fulfilling the mandates laid upon us by the College of Fine Arts’ mission statement: an obligation to prepare students “for the creation, practice, study, criticism and teaching of the arts,” at the same time as advancing the arts “through research and the creation of new work, preserving the past while striving to define the future of artistic traditions.” As the mission statement makes clear, the goals of preserving the past and defining the future are not antithetical. On the contrary: the two go hand in hand. We share this conviction. Far from impeding innovation, keeping the invaluable resource that is the Fine Arts Library in its current location will enable it to flourish. But more than this, doing so is necessary for ensuring the continued excellence of all the programs that compose the College of Fine Arts, old and new alike.
Donnie Ray Albert, Senior Lecturer in Voice
Gregory Allen, Professor of Piano
Byron Almén, Associate Professor of Theory
Elliott Antokoletz, Professor of Musicology
Rebecca Baltzer, Professor Emerita of Musicology
Nathaniel Brickens, Professor of Trombone
Andrew Brownell, Assistant Professor of Piano
James Buhler, Professor of Theory
Thomas Burritt, Professor of Percussion
Miguel Campinho, Lecturer in Collaborative Piano
Charles Carson, Associate Professor of Musicology
Carlos Capra, Lecturer in Voice
Glenn Chandler, Professor of Theory
Ollin Chavez, Piano Technician
Daniel Ching, Senior Lecturer in Violin
Eric Drott, Associate Professor of Theory
Robert Duke, Professor of Music and Human Learning
Tony Edwards, Lecturer in Percussion
William Fedkenheuer, Senior Lecturer in Strings and Chamber Music
John Fremgen, Associate Professor of Jazz Bass
Joshua Gall, Assistant Director, Longhorn Band
Marianne Gedigian, Professor of Flute
Sophia Gilmson, Associate Professor of Piano Pedagogy
Donald Grantham, Professor of Composition
Jonathan Gunn, Assistant Professor of Clarinet
Robert Hatten, Professor of Theory
Jeff Hellmer, Professor of Jazz Studies and Jazz Piano
Martha Hilley, Professor of Group Piano and Pedagogy
Adam Holzman, Professor of Guitar
Patrick Hughes, Associate Professor of Horn
Judith Jellison, Professor of Music and Human Learning
Kristin Wolfe Jensen, Professor of Bassoon
Jerry Junkin, Professor of Wind Conducting
Kelly Kuo, Music Director and Conductor, Butler Opera Center
Brian Lewis, Professor of Violin
Hannah Lewis, Assistant Professor of Musicology
Tammy Linn, Assistant to Brian Lewis
Robin Moore, Professor of Ethnomusicology
Roger Myers, Professor of Viola
Luisa Nardini, Associate Professor of Musicology
Anton Nel, Professor of Piano
Guido Olivieri, Senior Lecturer in Musicology
Stephen Page, Assistant Professor of Saxophone
Andrew Parker, Assistant Professor of Oboe
Russell Pinkston, Professor of Composition
Russell Podgorsek, Lecturer in Composition; Building Coordinator
Mary Ellen Poole, Director, Butler School of Music
Rick Rowley, Senior Lecturer in Vocal Accompanying
Ray Sasaki, Professor of Trumpet
Laurie Scott, Associate Professor of Music and Human Learning
Sonia Seeman, Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology
Daniel Seriff, Graduate Admissions and Community Outreach Coordinator
Amy Simmons, Senior Lecturer in Music and Human Learning
Stephen Slawek, Professor of Ethnomusicology
David Small, Professor of Voice
Page Stephens, Assistant Director for Operations
John Turci-Escobar, Lecturer in Theory
Michael Tusa, Professor of Musicology
Bion Tsang, Professor of Cello
Charles Villarrubia, Associate Professor of Tuba
Dan Welcher, Professor of Composition
Travis Weller, Venue Coordinator
Marianne Wheeldon, Professor of Theory
Darlene Wiley, Professor of Voice
Stephen Wray, Butler School of Music Registrar
Sandy Yamamoto, Senior Lecturer in Violin