Libraries in a Corporatized University

The Wall Street Journal reports about how colleges are removing stacks of books from their libraries and making them more into social centers. The article suggests that this new breed of library makes sense because of the availability of online information. Reading within the article, I get the sense that we are seeing the effects of the corporatization of the University, where students are seen as customers and the educational process takes a backseat.

Conkey, Christopher. 2006. “Libraries Beckon, But Stacks of Books Aren’t Part of Pitch.” Wall Street Journal (21 October): p. A 1.

“Mr. AmRhein, the 49-year-old library dean at Valparaiso, arrived in 1999 to oversee the design of a new library. “We looked at the way students work today,” Mr. AmRhein recalls. “They sit in comfortable chairs with their latte in their hand and they’re instant messaging with their friends at the same time as they’re studying or doing research”.”

“To that end, cozy alcoves in the Christopher Center — named for benefactors Jay and Doris Christopher, who sold their Pampered Chef line of kitchen tools to Warren Buffett in 2002 — contain gas fireplaces that can be turned on with the flick of a switch. Others run along enormous glass walls so students can gaze across a meadow, the sun’s glare neutralized by automatic blinds and a gigantic concrete lattice, dubbed “Hollywood Squares” by students, that surrounds the building. Student traffic, measured by gate counts, jumped 433% in the first year after the new library opened in September 2004.”


4 comments so far

  1. Jim Devine on

    This story sounds like what’s happening at my university (after I stopped being on the library committee).

  2. Seth Sandronsky on


    The library budget for buying new books at CSU, Sacramento has declined from $24,000 in 1998-1999 to $4,888 in 2005-2006, according to James Banyai, a graduate history student who runs the progressive Web site “CSUS Resistance”


  3. Doyle Saylor on

    Libraries are also where one could argue for certain sorts of learning policies in various cities as a part of a left orientation to corporate influences. As part of a package.

  4. Thursday on

    At CSU, Sacramento, the budget for the History monograph collection went from $24,651 (in 98/99) to $4,888 (in 05/06) – an 80% decrease! More cuts are expected for the 06/07 school year. The article, Tyranny of the Mind, can be read here:

    At the beginning of the 06 Spring semester, student space was co-opted in the library to make room for a Java City. Several computer lab study-stations were removed to accommodate the space needed for the corporate outlet. The study-stations had just been put in the year before because of a demand for internet access and group study resources in the library. New furniture, new computers, and new carpet were all removed (nobody knows to where) in order to transform an academic space into a commercial space.

    ~Thursday, CSUS Resistance

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