Commission on the Future of the UC Berkeley Library releases final report

Kore Chan/Senior Staff

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The Commission on the Future of the UC Berkeley Library released a report to campus officials Monday proposing developments to the campus library system.

The commission has worked since last fall to tackle some broad issues regarding the libraries’ research services, staffing, use of technology and finances.

The report was released to Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer and chair of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate Elizabeth Deakin. They hope to discuss the report’s findings and release a joint statement within the next week, Deakin said in an email.

“The Academic Senate applauds the hard work of the (Commission) on the Future of the Library,” Deakin said in an email. “I look forward to working with EVCP Breslauer to develop feasible and sustainable strategies to move forward in assuring the excellence of our Library.”

Budget cuts — which resulted in the library conducting an internal study suggesting that some of the speciality libraries be closed or changed  into reading rooms —served as an impetus for the administration establishing the commission in September 2012, said Panayiotis Papadopoulos, a professor of mechanical engineering and vice chair of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate.

Additionally, former ASUC academic affairs vice president Natalie Gavello formed a student version of the commission to consolidate students’ needs into a proposal, which was presented to the main commission in late March. The student commission focused on lengthening libraries’ operating hours and further incorporating technology and interactive learning tools into the libraries’ services.

“The student voice is necessary because we are the ones who use the university library for its physical space,” Gavello said. “We should have a say in what libraries are open and during what time.”

Papadopoulos referenced three objectives of the commission’s report: easy acquisition of either paper or electronic research materials, promotion of open access to research materials and increasing comfortable space in which students can learn and study effectively.

According to University Librarian Tom Leonard, the digitization of reference material and scholarly journals has increased the demand for easily accessible online resources.

“There are students, and I know there is faculty who, if they wanted an article that was in a journal or magazine that happened to be in their own room, would rather sit at their laptop, look it up and read it than get up and reach for it off the shelf,” Leonard said.

Another focus of the report, open access, seeks to provide unrestricted online access to research funded by public money.

“(Campus libraries) need to take on the leadership role of catalyzing the open access to resources, which is a national trend by which resources we are currently paying for will slowly become available freely,” Papadopoulos said.

The commission also examined student experience and the use of libraries as a productive space. Leonard, who described Moffitt Library to be “as comfortable as an old sweatshirt,” stressed the necessity of creating environments conducive to healthy learning.

“Students have a primary space where they live,” he said. “They go to class, and that’s the second space. Students need a third space where they sometimes seek seclusion and absolute quiet because they need to work that way. Libraries are that third space.”

Contact Adrianna Dinolfo at [email protected].