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Quadlings Discuss Future of Hilles

Almost 30 Quad residents and sympathizers questioned librarians about the future of Hilles Library last night, sharing concerns and ideas about a plan to cut its holdings.

Nancy M. Cline, Larsen librarian of the College, told the Cabot Livingroom gathering that it was likely that obsolete or lesser-used books would be cut from the Hilles collection and moved to other locations.

Cline focused discussion on Hilles’ first floor, which will remain a library, steering clear of details on the College’s plan to configure the upper floors for recreational and other student use.

Undergraduates, who made up about half of those in attendance, expressed concerns over whether they would be inconvenienced if too much of Hilles’ collection were moved elsewhere.

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Undergraduate Council Vice President Jessica R. Stannard-Friel ’04 said she was initially concerned that Cline and other library administrators were already set on a plan of action.

“At first, I kind of felt they were going to do what they were going to do,” said Stannard-Friel, who lives in Currier House and sits on a student-faculty committee considering Quad space options.

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But she added that as the meeting went on, she felt Cline and the other librarians in attendance became more receptive to student input.

Council representative Matthew W. Mahan ’05, who lives in Kirkland, suggested the creation of a library committee with students on it to help finalize plans.

“I hope we convinced them that there’s a definite need for a lot of student input,” Stannard-Friel said.

Concern about reducing the Hilles collection revolved around whether Quad students would have access to necessary books and whether heavy demands for a book would create problems.

One participant suggested that books be delivered to Hilles from Widener and Lamont libraries upon request. Cline and other librarians present were not optimistic about such a delivery service, pointing to associated costs.

Other suggestions included making more materials available online and designating Hilles as a pickup point for the books from the Harvard depository.

Any changes to Hilles will occur in the context of already tight budgets and cost-cutting is a major motivation for the consolidation of its collections.

According to the Harvard College Library 2002 Annual Report, Hilles required a total of $2,005,928 in expenditures, of which almost half was paid out in salaries and wages. Lamont was only slightly more expensive despite its heavier use, spending $2,240,513 in 2001.

—Staff writer Alexander J. Blenkinsopp can be reached at blenkins@fas.harvard.edu.

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