Magazine article American Libraries
Faculty Object to Shared San Jose Library
The passage of a $9.5-billion education bond measure by California voters on November 3 (see p. 14-16), some $86 million of which was earmarked for capital improvements to San Jose State University, has brought approval one step closer for a plan to build a joint university-main public library facility on campus (AL, Oct., p. 21). But even as the Academic Senate was preparing to send their own advisory vote to the city council in early December, a group of concerned SJSU faculty members were trying to convince their colleagues of the plan's inimicability to their academic lives.
More than 200 students and faculty attended a campus rally October 14 to show their opposition to the $171-million joint-use facility. The rally was organized by Save Our University Library (SOUL), which began its campaign in August to dissuade the Academic Senate from approving the plan. By early November, SOUL had collected some 300 faculty and 2,700 student signatures on anti-merger petitions.
"While we believe that university and public libraries both have important functions, they are different and cannot be easily merged," SOUL co-founder and history professor E. Bruce Reynolds told American Libraries. In particular, Reynolds worries that students will be "particularly disadvantaged" by having to vie for access to course-related materials with San Jose's 800,000 residents and enduring "watered down" reference service that caters to the lowest common denominator of user sophistication.
Reynolds said that "the city wants to be rid of the existing main library, which is on valuable land in front of the convention center. Also, by claiming full access to our collection the city politicians can claim they have, without any real cost to voters, solved the city's long-standing library collection deficiencies."
Just as "professors might like to think they know how to run a library" since they have patronized them for years, city librarian Jane Light quipped that she might be qualified to run a university's academic department using such logic. …