Fifth floor forever more: Fine Arts administration recommends fifth floor collection stays put

Brooke Vincent

The books and resources on the fifth floor of the Fine Arts Library have been the focus of the continuing press for space on campus, but now administration is backing faculty and student requests by asking for the books to stay put.

After considering a report from the Fine Arts Library task force released Tuesday, Douglas Dempster, dean of the College of Fine Arts, and Lorraine Haricombe, vice provost and director of libraries, released their recommendation to Maurie McInnis, executive vice president and provost, on Wednesday. The date of McInnis’ decision is unknown, director of communications Joey Williams said.   

“After reviewing the scenarios evaluated by the task force, it is clear that there is currently no alternative location or practicable scenario that would provide the level and quality of access needed or desired,” Dempster and Haricombe said in their release.  

The recommendations from the administrators include keeping the current library collection on the fifth floor and renovating space to increase shelving capacity, enhancing Wi-Fi performance, increasing electrical outlets and providing furnishings and infrastructure.

College of Fine Arts professors and students support keeping the resources close at hand, especially after feeling left out of the decision-making process when items were removed from the fourth floor during its renovation.

“For me personally, my primary concern was my own constituency, which are the students and my colleagues,” said Glen Peers, art history professor and task force member. “There have been many complaints, justifiably. Those things need to be fixed to make it a proper research library of a tier one institution. I don’t think that’s negotiable.”

Haricombe and Dempster recommended forming a standing advisory council of Fine Arts faculty and students from which Haricombe will solicit advice on what parts of the collection should be available in the Fine Arts library, repurposing of future space or staffing needs.

“When they renovated the fourth floor, we weren’t given any input into which ones could be sent off,” music professor Jim Buhler said. “I was happy with this task force and I thought the report was helpful itself.”

The recommendations by the dean and provost took into account faculty and student priority of access to the browsable core collection.

“I think having a library for the college and not housed in different collections in different schools allows for a synergy,” music lecturer Miguel Campinho said. “Places where people are together tend to create synergies and projects for research, installations and collaborations.”

Although this may do the least damage to the current collection, there needs to be a focus on the damage already done and the journals shipped off, classics professor Thomas Palaima said.

“As far as the (task force) five scenarios are concerned, I think they are all deeply flawed because none of them address the past,” Palaima said. “We’ve already done significant damage to the collection. Faculty is not calling for the return of all the books, but the faculty is saying those journals (sent away) are absolutely essential to our teaching and research.”