Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Goings-on at Dartmouth

Here's one hell of a story from Dartmouth, an Ivy League college.

Dr. William Cheng, Ph.D., a prominent music scholar, is the current Chair of the music department.  On Wednesday, February 17, he woke up to find emails, texts, and notifications asking him what was going on with Paddock Music Library. That's when Dr. Cheng found out about a terrible decision affecting the Music and Physical Sciences Departments:

I am the Chair of the Music Department at Dartmouth College. On Wednesday, February 17, I awoke to text messages, missed call notifications, and dozens of emails from alarmed colleagues and students across campus. “The Paddock Music Library is closing!?” they exclaimed in disbelief.

Not having had my morning coffee, I was flummoxed. My department office is stationed directly across from Paddock, which has offered highly limited hours and restricted services during the pandemic. I hadn’t heard anything about further closure. Closing for what? I groggily wondered. Spring break? Repairs? Mass reshelving? 

No. Closing . . . permanently.

I'm quoting from a document Dr. Cheng published via Google Docs; in it, he grants blanket permission to link to the document and to add to it. The quotation above starts on page 8. Dr. Cheng goes on to recount his discussions with Dean of Libraries Sue Mehrer about how these decisions were made. Everything he says is completely appalling. 

The decision to close Paddock was made without consulting anyone in the Music Department or anyone who uses the music library. There's a plan to move "less consulted" volumes off campus, with the ability to page them for delivery to...uh...somewhere.

It's clear that the people who made this decision don't understand that circulation isn't a good measure of how much a music library is used. The volumes of the Dufay critical edition, for example, don't circulate. They are big, cumbersome, and expensive to replace. Much score use takes place in the library

I encourage you to read Dr. Cheng's account. If you're a Dartmouth student or alumnus, leave your thoughts in the Google Doc, and send a letter or email to the appropriate people at the college: the alumni groups, the deans, the president, the Board. They need to know what a terrible decision this is.


No comments: