The Issue

Under the leadership of Vice Provost and Head of Libraries Lorraine Haricombe, the University of Texas at Austin has plans to significantly reduce its on-site library holdings. The plan has already devastated our internationally renowned Fine Arts Library, which in 2016 and 2017 suffered the needless removal of 75,000 volumes and the decommissioning of two of its three floors to accommodate a new maker space, The Foundry – an initiative of the School of Design and Creative Technologies – and to create office and classroom spaces to support the school. Why colonize the library space? Because The College of Fine Arts had been unable to raise sufficient funds to finance a new building. The consequent removal of the books and the repurposing of the space was pursued with no consultation of the faculty and students in the College of Fine Arts. Instead, it was presented to them as a fait accompli.

Now, Dean Dempster and Vice Provost Haricombe have plans to remove the final, remaining floor of the Fine Arts Library and ship many of the books to the Joint Library Facility shared with Texas A&M, over 100 miles away in College Station. Books and journals sent to the facility are no longer owned by UT Austin. Duplicate books and journals are pulped or shredded.

We recognize that allocations of space are necessary in a campus of this size. However, we adamantly oppose allocations that remove or encumber access to our most precious resources, which are the basis of our internationally renowned research and teaching excellence. The impact of this decision for our scholarship and teaching and for research, recruitment, and retention of top faculty and students is immeasurable. Quite apart from the damage done to UT’s own community, why would top faculty or students come to a university that eliminated its physical collections when competing institutions chose to keep theirs? And for that matter, why would the top faculty and students who are already here want to stay?

Our reputation as one of the United States’ top Research 1 universities is on the line. What will YOU do about it?

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