Ohio State Students Protest Closing of Black Studies Library - Higher Education

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Ohio State Students Protest Closing of Black Studies Library

by Hurley Goodall

COLUMBUS, Ohio

A student group has created an online petition protesting the closure of two Ohio State University campus libraries: the Black studies library and the women’s studies library.

Both of these collections were housed in the university’s main library, Thompson Library, until reconstruction of the library began this summer. When renovations are complete in 2008-2009, the historic collections of the Black studies and women’s studies libraries will be dissolved and recirculated throughout the library.

University officials say the renovations, designed to expand digital technology at the library, will improve accessibility and enhance the social aspect of learning.

But, some OSU students and faculty aren’t happy with the decision. Members of the Afrikan Student Union posted an online petition to protest the dissolution of the libraries. They say the libraries have a rich history, and students will be inconvenienced if the libraries are permanently closed. Before it’s closing, faculty had plans to boost the scope of the 35-year-old Black studies library, hoping to increase its status as a national facility for research in the field.

“A lot of us go there to do our own research,” says Robert Bennett, a doctoral student in Black studies.

The Black studies and women’s studies collections have been moved along with other humanities and social science resources to Sullivant Hall and Ackerman Library.

According to a statement from library director Joseph Branin, library staff will be available to help students and faculty locate books from the collections.

“The idea here is to arrange the print collection in the most efficient and clear arrangement, and to create reading rooms that highlight certain aspects of the collection, can be flexible, that bring print and digital technology together and that are inviting for individual and group work,” he said.

While library officials welcomed feedback from the faculty, Bennett says the students who use the libraries were essentially left out of the decision. It was that snub that motivated the students to fight to keep the libraries open.

“We want to bring attention to the issue,” Bennett says. “It’s about students being more organized to make sure their voices are heard.”

Michelle Millar, a sophomore business major, created the online petition that now includes almost 400 names. She says she created the petition to show officials how important the libraries are.

“We have to have something to show others,” she says, adding that she hopes the petition will lead officials to reconsider their decision.

The Black studies and women’s studies were established in 1971 and 1972, respectively, with the help of students and faculty.

— By Hurley Goodall



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