POA update!

20Apr10

photo courtesy of Katie, from Fight for the POA Library

If you can remember all the way back to last week, then you’ll recall my post about the then-endangered Physics-Optics-Astronomy Library at the University of Rochester.  When I wrote that post, I had no idea how huge the issue really was, and what kind of audience my words would reach.  It didn’t take long for people to respond.  I heard from librarians on the issue:

Karen:
The proposal to close the POA Library in order to create an engineering computer classroom is not a decision of the University of Rochester Libraries. This is a case where the library is a tenant of the College. Our short proposal focuses only on how we could best mitigate the harm of closing POA based on the resources available to us; recognizing that there are many essential elements of the POA library that simply cannot be moved or reconstituted elsewhere. The reactions of the faculty and students to the potential closure of POA has beautifully articulated what we already knew; a library is far, far more than a room with books.

Susan Gibbons
Vice Provost & Dean
River Campus Libraries
University of Rochester

I also heard from more people like my friend, who use and love the POA Library:

Hey Karen,

I’m one of the alumni from the University of Rochester, currently working on my doctorate in physics at a different institution. However, the POA library truly is my favorite memory of undergrad. Some people remember their fraternities or their sororities, or some really awesome professor, or some other really deeply impactful college experience. For myself, the POA, the friendships I made there, and the times I spent in that room, were the most deeply meaningful part of my undergraduate years. If you’re looking for a library who’s patrons are devoutly dedicated to the institution, look no further than the POA. I really highly recommend going there if you haven’t been; it’s an experience unlike any other library experience that I’ve ever had.

Call me selfish, but I’m glad that I took a few minutes to join in on the issue, because the passion surrounding this library made my little librarian heart swell with pride.  The beautiful thing was that there weren’t sides to be taken- everyone was working to maintain the best possible library experience.

Within days of my post, my friend followed up to let me know that the plans to move/split up the POA had been scrapped!  I’m sure my blog had nothing to do with it, but it was pretty rad to be in on something that had a real impact on so many students.

For me, there are several takeaways from this experience.  First of all, people really do love libraries!  In fact, lots of people have lots of love for their libraries!  Sometimes I start to think that I’m part of a very select group of people who are so dedicated to libraries and what they can accomplish in the community.  Before I can think that way for too long, an occurrence like this creates tidal waves of optimism and potential that flood far-reaching places that once seemed completely inaccessible.

Secondly, the POA Library is a perfect example of what a group of regular people can do with just one common spark.  This illustrates the power that we actually do have.  The patrons of the POA Library worked together to make a significant difference using positive expression and unyielding enthusiasm.  Who’s to say that we can’t all do that?

My extreme gratitude goes out to those who responded to my initial post.  I consider myself very fortunate to have been a minuscule part of this movement, and I’m beyond happy that the University of Rochester is continuing to provide such fantastic service to all of its patrons.

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