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COMMENT: Michael Keller, university librarian (650) 723-5553;

Charles Palm, deputy director, Hoover Institution, (650) 723-3564

Stanford realigns library collecting responsibilities

The Stanford University Libraries and Stanford's Hoover Library will realign their respective collecting and operating responsibilities, according to a plan announced Friday by Provost John Etchemendy. The new plan seeks to eliminate redundancy of effort, clarify missions and strengthen the university's overall library collecting program.

Etchemendy reached the decision to realign responsibilities after consultation with an ad hoc faculty committee that was chaired by history Professor Nancy Kollmann and included Professors Carl Bielefeldt, religious studies; Jeffrey Schnapp, French and Italian, and comparative literature; and Professor Peter Stansky, history.

"The faculty committee expressed the view, which I share, that the proposed transfer of responsibility, if it is to be successful, must be accompanied by effective curatorial leadership, sustained university financial support and significant faculty oversight. I intend to see to it that these conditions are fully met," Etchemendy said.

The plan, which was proposed jointly in December by administrators at the University Libraries and the Hoover Institution, transfers responsibility for acquiring general library materials (books, periodicals and major newspapers) from the Hoover Library to the University Libraries. It also transfers the university funds now allocated to the Hoover Institution for this purpose to the University Libraries. The Hoover Institution will continue to develop its holdings of special collections (personal papers, manuscripts, records of governmental and other organizations, pamphlets, leaflets, newsletters, posters and other fugitive literature) in all the geographical and subject areas in which it currently maintains collections.

By assigning responsibility for all general materials to the University Libraries, the realignment establishes more effective coordination of collection development operations and, through economies of scale, achieves a more efficient management of cataloging and other technical services. It also improves access by transferring some general materials from the closed stacks in the Hoover Tower to open stacks in the University Libraries. Hoover Library users from outside Stanford, as well as Stanford students and faculty, will have free access to these and other holdings of the University Libraries.

At the same time, the Hoover Library will be relieved of its responsibility to acquire general materials. With the resulting surplus space, Hoover Library will be able to focus more attention on gathering fugitive and archival materials on contemporary issues the kind of material that, if not promptly collected when it appears disappears forever. The realignment strengthens the role of the Hoover Library as a special library of rare and unique materials, and thus gives renewed emphasis to its founding mission.

According to Etchemendy, the East Asia Collection and its staff are scheduled to be transferred from the Lou Henry Hoover Building to the Meyer Library Building in September. Most staff for the other affected collections also will move in September. General library materials that now reside in the Hoover Tower will be identified and transferred over the course of the next two years. Stanford faculty and Hoover fellows will work with the University Libraries and Hoover Institution in implementing the transition.

Hoover Institution Director John Raisian said he was confident that the University Libraries can effectively assume the tasks of acquiring general library materials in the subject areas that up until now have been under the purview of the Hoover Library.

"We at Hoover are committed to the special collections that will remain at Hoover and that represent our unique contribution to scholarship," Raisian said. "By providing clarity of purpose and a division of labor based on our comparative advantages, this realignment promises to make the library collections at Stanford, taken as a whole, both stronger and more efficient."

University Librarian Michael Keller also praised the realignment and its mutual benefits.

"In coordination with the University Libraries, the Hoover Library has built world-class library collections that have contributed in many ways to Stanford's academic program and to scholarship generally," Keller said. "My staff and I greatly respect the outstanding work that has been done by Hoover librarians and curators over the years. We intend to sustain the efforts that have produced these great collections and to work with our Hoover colleagues as they continue to build the special and archival collections that have made the Hoover Library world famous."


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