To: Dr. Patricia A. Steele, Dean of Libraries, UMD
Save the University of Maryland Art Library
Dear Dean Patricia Steele,
I respectfully request that you reconsider your decision to close the University of Maryland's Art Library.
Why is this important?
The University of Maryland’s Art Library is scheduled to close and be absorbed into the McKeldin Library collection. Dean of Libraries, Patricia Steele announced this decision during the summer, while faculty and students were away from campus, without any consultation with the Department of Art or the Department of Art History & Archaeology, whose students and faculty rely on the Art Library’s collections for their research and teaching. At more than 100,000 volumes, the Art Library houses one of the most comprehensive collections of art historical resources in the area.
The Architecture Library was slated to close before the beginning of fall semester, but that closure has been delayed, in part as a result of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation’s petition and letter-writing campaign. Both libraries are currently still open but the hours have been cut back substantially. During the fall semester, the Art Library will be open only from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The current hours will make it very difficult for faculty and graduate students to use the collections, since they are teaching and/or taking classes during these times.
Despite university budget crises in recent years, top art history programs around the country have maintained dedicated art libraries. These libraries are not only essential for the research and teaching of faculty and graduate students—they also factor into national rankings. The university library system serves several user populations with differing needs, and branch libraries are particularly important to the graduate and faculty communities. The University of Maryland should strive to support not only undergraduate students, but also the graduate students and faculty whose research endeavors uphold the University’s status as a prominent research institution.
A counter-argument will probably be made by UMD Libraries that moving these two satellite libraries' collections to McKeldin will make them more accessible to students during the long hours that McKeldin is open. However, McKeldin's stacks are already quite crowded as it is and last year many books on the fifth floor were damaged by mold caused by a faulty HVAC system and were discarded. Although we do not know this to be certain, there is concern that many of the books could be moved to offsite storage, making them even less accessible to students and faculty.
A major concern within the Department of Art History, among other things, is that the closure of the Art Library will make research much more difficult for current faculty and students and will diminish the attractiveness of our program to prospective students and future faculty members.
Please help save the University of Maryland’s Art Library by signing our petition and sharing it with friends and family who understand the importance of this academic resource for the University at large.