Future of UCSanta Cruz Libraries

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Two library building occupations by students, one in November and one in May, have done more to highlight the importance of the library to students than any of the arguments put forward by library staff and administrators. Both actions took place at our Science and Engineering library, a centrally located highly visible building. In the November action, students organized a 24 hour study-in, and in May they occupied the building by refusing to leave at the 10pm closing and staying until midnight for three consecutive nights.

Undergraduate and graduate students subsequently voted to assess themselves a library fee of $6.00 per student per quarter for three years. The vote passed with 84% in favor. The vote allows us to restore our building hours, including reopening on Saturdays.

Despite this tremendous support from students, our reference statistics show a decline. We know there are unmet needs, and to address this we've initiated a library-wide discussion to generate ideas to make the library more engaging and meaningful to our user community. Part of this is helping students understand how the library can help them. One idea currently being explored (based on funding) is to adapt the UC Merced student-based "roving reference" program for our libraries. At UCM, specially trained UCM students "rove" the library, answering general reference, circulation and library IT questions. They carry handheld radios which allow them to request assistance from librarians when they encounter questions they cannot answer. We have experienced uneven results when librarians attempt to rove beyond the desk, and are eager to see how students will respond to their peers with this program.

We look forward to continuing the LAUC futures discussion with our colleagues both at UC and nationally.