Symposium to be held on future of campus libraries

Tony Zhou/Staff

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There will be a symposium Friday in Wheeler Hall to address the future of the various libraries on the UC Berkeley campus and how they ought to move forward.

Initiated by the Commission on the Future of the UC Berkeley Library, the symposium aims to provide input for a re-envisioning initiative for campus libraries and is part of a larger effort conducted by the commission to retool libraries for the future.

“We want really to encourage a dialogue not just about our library but where our library is going in the next 10 to 20 years,” said Carla Hesse, co-chair of the commission.

The discussion will mainly revolve around gathering input from all stakeholders in the libraries to ensure that in coming times, libraries will function to meet the changing needs of all users.

“Student interest in the libraries changes over time,” said University Librarian Tom Leonard. “Students really look at the libraries as a second home, staying for much longer hours than was common a while ago

One notable thing the commission hopes to gain from the symposium is how the University of Michigan, with relatively the same budget as UC Berkeley, can have two libraries that are open 24 hours while UC Berkeley does not have even one, according to Hesse.

Moreover, digitization also remains a main question regarding the future of library collections but poses many problems. Digital content is expensive, notably because of copyright fees, journal subscriptions and maintenance of online databases across disciplines. Additionally, due to UC Berkeley’s large collection, digitizing could cost up to tens of millions of dollars, according Leonard.

Nonetheless, in light of changing customer preferences, the UC Berkeley libraries have a number of potential avenues they seek to explore, such as library consolidation.

Consolidation has been discussed as the library addresses questions regarding the best place to put books, either in different places all over campus or distribution in an alternative way, said Leonard.

One idea is to move the books currently housed in Moffitt Library to Main Stacks, with Moffitt being a study and meeting area, according to Natalie Gavello, the ASUC academic affairs vice president.

Main Stacks will likely remain the main repository for books, as with compact shelving, the number of volumes in main stacks has room to increase, said Leonard.

The commission is still gathering information about possible solutions and intends to release its final report and recommendations on May 15, according to Hesse.

Contact Christine Tyler at [email protected].

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