The drama continues. University of Texas at Austin’s students, faculty, alumni, and other art lovers are closely watching the controversy over the dismantling of University of Texas at Austin’s extensive (and in Texas, unrivaled) Fine Arts Library, or FAL. UT’s College of Fine Arts has been dismantling the much-loved library and moving tens of thousands of books and other resource materials off campus, and in recent months there have been protests, letter-writing campaigns, etc., against the decision.
Today, the curatorial team at UT’s Blanton Museum of Art published a public letter to UT’s College of Fine Arts’ dean, Douglas Dempster, and its vice provost Lorraine Haricombe, stating: “We are extremely concerned about the impending changes to the Fine Arts Library and the threats they pose to the quality of the work we do — growing our collection responsibly, planning exhibitions, and producing innovative scholarship.”
They go on: “Much of our knowledge is still held in the vast troves of printed matter that have so beautifully stored it since the first presses went into use centuries ago. Printed books are still the cornerstone of academic scholarship in our field. In fact, art history books and exhibition catalogues are rarely published or reproduced in digital format. Though these could be scanned, clicking back and forth between images of dubious quality on a computer screen is not an acceptable substitute for the ability to array our sources on large tables in order to make visual comparisons. Most art books are essentially reference books and by putting them in storage, you render them useless.”
The letter is signed by all of the Blanton’s curators and associate and assistant curators, including Carter Foster, Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs, and Veronica Roberts, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.
The Blanton’s director, Simone J. Wicha, did not sign the letter.
To read the letter in full, please go here.