Recently, University staff happened upon small-yet-costly damages to the library’s first-floor conference room. Scratches appeared on wooden surfaces and a sculpture, as has poetry written in permanent marker. Additionally, the protective glass over the bookshelves has been broken in spots and the curtains stained.
Formerly home of the math workshop, the room is now available for use by student groups and organizations. Caleb T. Winchester University Librarian Daniel Cherubin aims to facilitate more interaction between students and the library as a space for more than just completing assignments, a task rendered difficult by the disruptive costs to repair the space’s vandalized materials.
In addition to their functions as spaces for students to complete their own work, Cherubin hopes that the University’s libraries, SciLi in particular, can become areas where students go to satisfy their curiosities (finding an alternative to “alternative facts,” for example) and participate in group activities. Future projects include a Wikipedia edit-a-thon for students to contribute to the site by providing well researched and properly formatted information on underrepresented subject areas.
“So that students can use the resources we have here to cite correctly and add to Wikipedia to [pages for] underrepresented groups,” he said. “We’ve done this at other universities I’ve worked at. So, you know…[we can] create a better sense of information out there for everybody.”
“We’d rather be here for students in a much larger way than a space that we have to constantly repair,” Cherubin said.
Cherubin understands that while some of the acts, such as the poetry written in permanent marker, may not have been committed with the intention of vandalism, the cost of repairing the damaged surfaces and materials requires a re-allocation of financial resources that would otherwise be used to spearhead the library’s other projects and initiatives.
“These are things that all seem simple, though we really don’t have the money to fix [them], as we are trying to spend our time, effort, and money to be more embedded outside the library…,” Cherubin said. “So when we have to come back and do basic repairs, we expect people to… While they may think they’re being creative and artistic. they’re damaging stuff, and it’s time and money for us to try and repair it, which we don’t really have.”