Students picket UT dean’s SXSW talk to protest removal of Fine Arts Library materials


Anger over recent changes to the University of Texas’ Fine Arts Library continues to roil students and faculty.

Members of a group called Save UT Libraries protested outside a talk by the dean of the College of Fine Arts at SXSW EDU on Wednesday, The Daily Texan reported today.

At the Hilton Austin conference center, the group of about 50 UT art students along with several faculty members held signs reading “A library without books is not a library” and chanted “You can’t take our books away!”, the Daily Texan reported.

The issue at the center of the protest is the recent removal of more than 75,000 books, music scores and bound volumes of periodicals from the UT Fine Arts Library (FAL) to make room for the College of Fine Arts new School of Design and Creative Technologies. The Foundry, a new tech-centered maker space, was also carved out of part of FAL’s main floor reading room. In its new configuration, the FAL now holds approximately 200,000 items on site while some 60 percent of its collections are housed off-site.

Dean Douglas Dempster was at SXSW EDU to deliver a talk titled “Redesigning a Modern-day College of ‘Fine’ Arts.”

“We want to save the FAL not just for us, but because this is a dangerous trend across higher education,” protesting student Grace Sparapani told the Daily Texan.

The issue boiled over last fall during a heated town hall discussion with Dempster and Lorraine Haricombe, vice provost and director of UT Libraries. Two task forces have since been assembled and input from students and faculty has been solicited.Both groups are due to report their findings by April 2.



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