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Course IX Library To Close

By Jenny Zhang


The Schering-Plough library of Neurosciences and Biomedical Imaging, located in building E25 near MIT Medical, will close at the beginning of this summer.

Most of the Schering-Plough materials, primarily books and journals, will be transferred to the Science library, said Mary Jane Miller, director of development for MIT libraries.

The move comes as a direct result of the decision not to move the library into the new brain and cognitive sciences project, anticipated to open in 2005.

Originally the move was to scheduled to occur when the brain and cognitive sciences project opened, but the date was moved up to this summer primarily to cut operating costs, said Howard J. Silver, associate head of the science library.

As of now, no decision has been made for how to use the space that Schering-Plough will vacate, but one possibility is that it will be converted into office space for those who currently have windowless offices in the basement, said director of libraries Ann J. Wolpert.

Library users give feedback

Many of the library users appreciate its current location in E25 and believe that it is the ideal location.

“I think it is the essential source, everything you could want for course nine is at that library and not the others,” said Nasheed I. Jamal ’05, a Brain and Cognitive Sciences major.

“It's very convenient because I'm an [Health Sciences and Technology] student and it's closest to the T station,” said Hui S. Nam G. “I come here at least one time a day on weekdays, I'd prefer to have it around,” he said.

Christopher Moore a BCS assistant professor, said that he heard about the decision to move the materials three to four months ago, and “was shocked and dismayed.”

“It’s a tremendous loss,” he said. He said that he found the library very beneficial in terms of both its focus on cognitive sciences and proximity to his office, which is in the same building.

More said that when he heard about the move, he met with Gass, who explained the reasons for the decision. “I understood their arguments, but I think it’s too bad,” he said.

Denny pointed out that in some ways the move might be beneficial, because the science library has much longer hours and the 24-hour study room would be readily available. Currently, Schering-Plough is closed on Saturdays and open from 2-6 p.m. on Sundays.

Closing cuts costs

Steven Gass, associate director for public services, said that originally the library administrators had hoped that Schering-Plough would move into the new brain and cognitive sciences project along with the BCS department.

However, the three major groups that would move into the new facility, the Brain and Cognitive Sciences department, the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, and the Picower Center for Learning and Memory, determined there wasn’t space for the library in the new facility.

Relocation to the science library was originally scheduled to coincide with the opening of the new project to allow easier access, since the Science library is much closer to the building project, but budgeting issues speeded up the decision, Miller said.

“We had a whole series of discussions with the Dean of Science [Robert J. Silbey] and Provost [Robert A. Brown] to handle the reality of budget” constraints, Wolpert said.

“We certainly communicated to all of the faculty the intention before anything was finalized,” Gass said.

Wolpert also said that information was provided to the Faculty Committee on the Library System, which has two undergraduate and graduate student representatives.

Faculty were notified in late October, and although some were disappointed with the library closing, Gass said, “I believe that people thought the decision was rational.”

Gass estimates that the move will save approximately $50,000 in operating expenses.

Committee to coordinate move

Many of the details of the move have not yet been determined, but two weeks ago a committee was formed to plan the move, Miller said.

Howard J. Silver associate head of the science library and a member of committee, said that approximately 2250 books, or 150 shelves’ worth, in addition to 70 shelves of journals or the equivalent of about 70 different titles, would be moved from Schering-Plough. He estimated that 40-50 shelves total of material from Science and Schering-Plough would be moved into storage in off-campus facilities.

The decision of what to put into storage is made according to usage, Miller said. Materials are routinely put into storage as the libraries need to make room for new books.

The Schering-Plough librarians will still have jobs and work at the Science library instead, Denny said.

Library space is lacking

Gass said he thinks the move is only a temporary solution, and there is a much larger concern of lack of space for both books and people. “One-third of our collections are in storage, and relative to our peers we have a low ratio of seats [available in the libraries] to people,” he said.

Wolpert said that having such a large portion of the materials stored off-campus is a costly handicap, since it is both expensive and time-consuming to transport off-campus materials should students request them.

“Several years from now, we hope to have a new science and engineering library,” Miller said.

“We very excited about the prospect of a new library” in the future Wolpert said.