The ASUC meeting on Wednesday marked a win for students and community members fighting to preserve the George and Mary Foster Anthropology Library. ASUC Senators moved to co-sponsor Senate Resolution 22/23-038 to indefinitely postpone the impending closure of the library.
The meeting’s public comment forum was crowded with faculty, researchers, undergraduates and graduate students in support of keeping the library open.
“I never once thought that I would come to a UC system school and they would take books away from you. The very tools you came for … they’ll take away from you,” alleged Jun Sunseri, a campus professor of anthropology.
Campus currently has the only public anthropology library in the country. Sunseri added that because of its public status, anyone could access the library’s unique literature including records of federal recognitions, land rights and water rights.
Many Berkeley community members had and still have the chance to reconnect with their culture through the library, Sunseri added, but will no longer have that access should the library close.
Campus plans to merge the books from the anthropology library with the Gardner Main Stacks Library by January 2024. However, according to Jesús Gutierrez, a Ph.D. candidate for anthropology on campus, this will pose a complicated issue for students wanting to locate anthropological literature.
“The library system has been very difficult to determine because the library staff has been dismantling the collection. They are very hush, hush about how they execute,” Gutierrez alleged. “(They) just come in, take out a little cart of books. And to complicate matters further, it’s hard for me to, for example, try to keep a tally of books that I visually see because there’s a parallel project that they’re running where they’re digitizing some books, so it’s hard to know (which) books are going to be digitized (or not).”
Although campus has not made specific plans for the library, possible options include turning it into a study or collaboration space.
Second year undergraduate student researcher Amyrah Doty noted, however, that she does not want a “sterilized study space.”
“Being on the podium was definitely nerve-wracking. I don’t like public speaking, but I knew I had to stand up for the space that is one of the main resources to my research,” Doty said.
She stated that although the Senators have advocated to support the library, she is not “too excited just yet.”
After public comment on the library and the preceding PATH to Care workshop, ASUC Senators briefly discussed new business for committee meetings next week.