March 25, 2009

Physical Sciences Library Next on Chopping Block

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The Physical Sciences Library in Clark Hall — like Tower Café and the Knight Visual Resources Facility before it — has fallen prey to the University-wide budget cuts in reaction to the current financial crisis.
According to a recent announcement on the Cornell Library’s website, “Janet McCue [associate University librarian for teaching, research, outreach and learning services] met with PSL staff on Wednesday to let them know that their library will be closing at the end of 2009.”
The statement continued: “On that same day the deans of Arts and Sciences and Engineering discussed this decision with the chairs of affected departments in [the affected] schools. A group of faculty and students from Arts and Sciences and Engineering will work directly with Janet [McCue], Leah Solla [PSL coordinator], and others in developing a transition strategy to ensure that their needs continue to be met.”
In an e-mail responding to the decision, Solla stated: “It remains the mission of the Clark Library to provide for the scholarly information needs of Cornell in chemistry, physics and astronomy to the best of our ability. We will flex, reach out in many directions and think well beyond the traditional branch library model as we reshape this library, its collections and services to support the evolving research environment of the 21st century.”
Despite the online announcement, details remain vague as PSL administrators were unavailable to comment last night. The library’s student staff members seemed unaware of the impending closing, as did students in the library.
Some students expressed their dismay upon learning about the news.
“I didn’t know it was closing and I think it’s too bad because I work two night a week at Rockefel­ler, so this is where I hang out,” Justin Granstein ’10 said.
Amy Barriger ’11 concurred.
“No, I didn’t hear [about the news, but] that’s awful,” Barriger said. “I live in Risley and it’s definitely the most convenient library, so I don’t know … I mean I guess they’ve got to cut [funding] somewhere but it’s really unfortunate because it’s the most accessible one from North Campus.”
As a graduating senior, Sergei Vishniakou ’09 said that the decision would not directly affect him, but called it “messed up” adding, “It would affect me if I were still here on campus. I mean I live here — I study here maybe like six hours a day.”
Aside from questions of convenience and accessibility, as a science major, Vishniakou was concerned about the relocation of the library’s resources. He said, “I go here for reserves a lot.”
Gladstein shared these concerns, saying that as a teaching assistant for Physics 1101/1102, “I think a lot of my students do use [the library’s resources].”
Questioning the logic behind the decision, Barriger asked, “Are they closing a lot of libraries on campus? Because it seems like there are less used libraries than this …”
In a criticism that has become increasingly common on Central Campus, Barriger added, “This is not the first [building] that I would close first if I were Cornell.”