Walton Announces Timeline for Library Closures

The Claremont University Consortium announced Monday that libraries located on the Harvey Mudd, Pomona, and Scripps College campuses will no longer be operated by CUC.

Sprague and Seeley G. Mudd, currently science libraries on the HMC and Pomona campuses, will close on June 30. CUC will continue to operate Denison Library on the Scripps campus until the end of the 2009-2010 fiscal year. After 2010, Denison will remain an “active library program,” according to Scripps Dean of Faculty Cecilia Conrad, and it will be operated by Scripps.

The majority of materials from the library branches will be moved to a new science section in Honnold/Mudd. Due to overcrowding in the Honnold/Mudd facility, CUC will be transporting certain materials currently housed in Honnold/Mudd to the Records Center, an off-campus leased facility located two miles from campus.

Numerous services, including electronic access, delivery of requested materials, and shuttle service to the storage facility will be provided to students and faculty who wish to use stored resources.

According to Robert Walton, Chief Executive Officer of the CUC, the Consortium has been considering closing the libraries since a library task force was formed in 2007. Staff, students, and faculty also participated in Consortium-wide discussions concerning plans for the libraries. In April, the Council of Presidents approved the final decision for the library branches with input from the library task force.

“Data shows that very few students use the branch libraries. The most frequent and popular way of using the library, by a wide margin, is electronically,” Walton said in an e-mail to The Student Life.

According to Corinne Cho HMC ’10, a student employee at the Sprague library, student employees will have to find alternative work-study jobs once the libraries close.

“One of the librarians offered to help us find jobs at libraries on other campuses, such as Denison and Honnold/Mudd. But it is inconvenient for some students to go off-campus to work,” Cho said.

According to Cho, some HMC students prefer Sprague as a quiet study space. “It would be inconvenient for people who like to do work in Sprague because it’s quiet, but I don’t think they would object if the administration decided to turn it into a study area. It really depends on what they do for the space,” Cho said.

Walton said that major deciding factors for the branch library closures were to free resources to expand the services and collections of a stronger core library facility located in Honnold/Mudd. Proposed future services include extending library hours at Honnold/Mudd to include 24-hour access and expanding electronic collections available to students.

Walton said that CUC funding will be reduced by over $2 million due to recent financial constraints, forcing the consortium to seek additional ways of reducing expenditures.

“One of those options was to move up the closure of the branch libraries, resulting in an immediate financial savings to the Claremont Colleges while maintaining a strong library strategy,” Walton said.

In order to further reduce costs, CUC is making efforts to reduce funding for the executive office, facilities renewal, and certain other services. CUC will also introduce a voluntary early retirement program. In addition, staff reductions for the employees of the various CUC libraries will be in effect.

While Harvey Mudd and Pomona have decided to use the buildings for other purposes, Scripps has committed to maintaining and reshaping Denison as a library facility beginning in July 2010. According to Scripps Dean of Faculty Cecilia Conrad in an e-mail sent to faculty and students, special collections of rare books, manuscripts, and other distinctive resources will be central to the college’s preservation of Denison as an intimate library setting.

Jessica Burrus SC ’11, a student employee of Denison library and a representative on a newly formed Consortium-wide Library Advisory Committee, emphasized the importance for Scripps to maintain Denison as a library.

“The library is an integral part of our identity here at Scripps. It holds a lot of meaning for matriculation and graduation,” Burrus said.

Burrus also expressed the significance of the MacPherson collection, which is a collection of women’s studies resources housed in Denison Library.

“The women’s studies collection is important to have on the Scripps campus. It is important for students of the Claremont Colleges to witness that aspect of Scripps’s focus on women’s education,” Burrus said.

However, CUC owned resources currently housed in Denison will be relocated in the next year.

“The Denison library has many Scripps owned collections which will take research and sorting during the coming year to determine what is owned by CUC and needs to be moved, and what collections will remain at Denison to be operated and paid for by Scripps College,” Walton said.

The transition process for integrating materials into the Honnold/Mudd collection and the Records Center facility will begin immediately. The Records Center will be open for browsing and other services in August.

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