Student Voice: Cuts to the Libraries


It seems that everyone lately wants to contact blogging Smith alums. We received an email from Sarah Mischner ’10, asking us to spread information about the proposed cuts to the Smith College libraries to alumnae. You can also follow the online conversation in the independently-run forums at

To my fellow Smithies!

As you may have heard, the administration of Smith is proposing serious budget cuts, one of which is the closing of the Werner Josten Performing Arts Library to consolidate into Neilson. I’m spearheading a group of current Smithies who are very concerned about this proposal, and are reaching out to fellow students, alums, and other friends to try and get support.

  • This proposal will result in the already over-crowded main library needing to buy new shelving, place large portions of the collections into storage, convert existing rooms into listening rooms, and buy new equipment so  students can listen to and watch materials.
  • The plan proposes to convert the performing arts library space into additional classrooms, a costly venture which would negate the cost benefits of consolidation.
  • The administration believes that dividing and re-sorting the nationally renowned collection from Josten would result in a fully functional and accessible collection, but, as students, we have determined that this would make the collection very impractical and much less accessible. In addition to a completely different manner of organization of materials, the loss of three specialized staff librarians who are an incredible resource would make the distribution into Neilson even more confusing and incredibly hard to navigate.
  • The administration has proposed that many materials may be placed online in order to save space. However, many of these resources, including scores and scripts, would be unusable in a virtual format due to the necessity of having a physical score from which to learn.

Josten is the only performing arts library among the Five College Consortium, and a large number of Five College students use the space. In considering of how many people utilize Josten, Smith’s administration has only counted the number of music, theater, and dance majors, without including the huge number of people involved in musical ensembles, theater productions, and dance programs. Please help us communicate these thoughts to the administration, Trustees, and President of Smith College in an effort to change the plan. You may write your own letter or use whatever part of this post you deem necessary. With some effort, I believe that we can make our voices heard and hopefully provoke a change.

If you would like further information, or to discuss in more detail what kinds of effects will result from these changes, please feel free to contact me. If you would like to do more than send a letter, we have a petition which I would love to add your names to! If you would like to be added, please send me your name, major at Smith, and graduating year.

Thank you!

Sarah Mischner,, 609-947-0780

To contact President Christ:

Rebecca Lindsey, Secretary to the Board of Trustees and Assistant to Pres. Christ:

For contact information of trustees:

Proposed reduction plan for the libraries:


2 Responses to “Student Voice: Cuts to the Libraries”

  1. 1 peter c

    How do you contact the Board of Trustees directly….each one… vs. going thru their secretary. I believe the mail is “filtered”.

    • 2 Sarah

      Unfortunately, I don’t know. I don’t think there is any other way. However, I like to think that if enough people contact the secretaries, the core message will be conveyed.

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