Riptide of funding cuts may mean the end of Scripps library

by on March 31, 2011 · 2 comments

in Economy, Education

By Kendra Hartmann/

Scripps Institution of Oceanography Library

With budget cuts rearing their ugly head on a regular basis, news of more casualties falls on almost numb ears. The University of California, San Diego, however, is feeling the threat of tightening purse strings in a whole new way. For the students, scientists and public that frequent the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) Library, Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed cuts could mean the end of an era: the largest library in the world dedicated to marine science will likely close this summer.

“It doesn’t make any sense that our 100-year-old unique facility should be terminated,” said Walter Munk, professor emeritus at the UCSD Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics and longtime SIO Library user.

On top of the $5 million that has been cut from the university’s library system budget, administrators have been told to plan for an additional $3 million slash. The result, according to university librarian Brian Schottlaender, is that UCSD will have no option other than to consolidate the eight unique campus libraries into a just few general facilities. In a letter he addressed to colleagues on the UCSD website, Schottlaender indicated that with the proposed cuts, the university would have to close, at a minimum, four library facilities: the Center for Library and Instructional Computing Services (CLICS), the International Relations/Pacific Studies Library (IR/PS), the Medical Center Library and the SIO Library.

Read the rest of the articel: San Diego Community News Group

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

George (GrokSurf) April 1, 2011 at 6:47 am

It’s been many years since I left my job at the UCSD Libraries and I have only a remote sense about the current organizational dynamics there. Last November I’d heard a rumor about a possible closure of the SIO library but thought that idea was only floated to stimulate the UCSD community into harder thinking about how to make cuts and that a creative idea would emerge to prevent such a disaster. But hearing now that it and three other library facilities may close has me shaking my head with dismay.

I think closing all four libraries, and especially SIO and IR/PS, will cause great disruption to the remaining library system as management and staff struggle to implement the changes. People, collections, computing facilities and equipment, physical plant operations, processing functions, research services, and much more will have to be triaged for elimination or consolidation or transfer, and that’s likely to be a very time-consuming, complicated, expensive process. I think management will spend much more money on implementation than they think, that budgetary savings will be considerably less than expected, and that there will be many unanticipated consequences.

With the contemplated reduction and elimination of these resources for advanced scholarly endeavor at UCSD, the damage likely to result is awful to contemplate. Conceivably, the harm to the institutional value and prestige will be permanent.

Here’s a very loose take on the facilities:

My impression is that SIO Library isn’t heavily used for study space, except during exams, but grad students, faculty, and visiting researchers rely on the physical collection significantly because much is unavailable online. I’m guessing it could scrape by with severe cuts in operating hours and operational routines. But abandoning the SIO library and dispersing its valuable archives (which require special care, security, and climate control), charts, maps, and other collections to some distant place or places would certainly qualify as a disaster for UCSD.

IR/PS Library also supports graduate-level research but compared to SIO it’s in its adolescence so morphing some of its function into the nearby Geisel Library would conceivably be less traumatic. No doubt many people would disagree, though.

Where would the physical collections at SIO and IR/PS go? They aren’t going to squeeze everything into the Geisel Library facilities. Would they lease another off-campus storage annex, as they did for a big chunk of Geisel’s overcrowded collection years ago? How could dispersing SIO and IR/PS materials to a remote site make more sense than leaving them in their existing buildings with some degree of minimal access? Indeed, what is the plan for the vacated buildings?

CLICS’s main draw is as a large computing facility and for that reason I always thought it a bit odd for it to be under the library’s umbrella. It’s probably very well populated by Revelle dorm residents but certainly not exclusively. Without CLICS students would go to Geisel Library or hit other facilities in or near the Price Center for computing needs. I suspect CLICS could survive in some form if full financial responsibility could be taken over by Academic Computing and Media Services (which already shares some responsibility with UCSD Libraries for it).

The small Med Center library is convenient for some at the Hillcrest location but I don’t think it’s essential at that location. Of the four facilities on the hit list, this library probably would be less problematic to merge into the Biomedical Library on the main campus.

I don’t think public protests against closures can accomplish much unless accompanied by realistic alternative ideas. I’m hoping what money there is can be stretched further to preserve more library assets.

There has to be a better way. I’m sure lots of serious thought and discussion has transpired among very smart people at UCSD, but there simply must be additional effort to keep things from falling apart. I hope one more person out there will have an inspirational idea that will rescue the libraries.


RB April 1, 2011 at 7:54 am

As you close libraries at UCSD due to state funding, you need to look a little deeper. Libraries at UCSD are not just a support systems for the undergraduate programs, funded in part by the state. The purpose of these small research libraries is for research and grant support. UCSD extract approximately 50% of all grant and research money off the top for UC support such as for libraries. This is before a penny is spent on equipment or personnel to do the research. I suspect the libraries, fully fund by research money, are being closed so the ‘bean counters’ in administration can shift funds from federal and private grant support to the undergraduate education not being funded by the dysfunctional state.

Also the closing of Med Center Library, which I used for twenty years, is yet another indication of UCSD’s intentions to close the Hillcrest center and pull away from service of those living south of I-8.


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