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Physical Sciences Library to close doors but keeps research options open

The Physical Sciences Library in Clark Hall, one of Cornell University Library's 20 unit libraries, will close at the end of 2009. Although the physical facility is shutting its doors, the library will continue as a portal for scholarly resources, a virtual collection and a service through research specialists.

"Although closing facilities is never a desired step, we are committed to maintaining a strong presence in the physical sciences and making sure that the community's research, teaching and learning needs are fully met," said Anne R. Kenney, the Carl A. Kroch University Librarian.

The current budget climate necessitated the decision, which was made with the concurrence of the deans of the affected colleges and supported by Provost Kent Fuchs. Many factors -- including circulation figures, numbers of visitors and reference questions, and the wide availability of online access to resources in the physical sciences -- contributed to the decision.

Kenney noted that "keeping pace with the escalating costs of journals while maintaining services at 20 different physical locations is no longer a sustainable strategy. The library is shifting its focus to essential online research tools for users in the hard sciences, and electronic resources such as demonstrate our dedication to their fields of study."

The vast majority of the journal collection in the Physical Sciences Library is already available electronically. The library will work to extend online access to critical resources through enhanced electronic subscriptions and book digitization.

Library subject specialists will continue to offer research and instruction services, as well as support for electronic resources. Heavily used physical collections will be stored on campus in adjacent libraries, with lesser-used materials sent to the annex but readily retrievable.

"We will flex, reach out in many directions and think well beyond the traditional branch library model as we reshape this library, its collections and services to support the evolving research environment for the 21st century," said Leah Solla, coordinator of the Physical Sciences Library.

In preparing for the closing, Janet McCue, associate university librarian for all campus libraries, will form a committee of staff, faculty and students to develop a transition strategy. Forums will be held to solicit advice and recommendations from the Physical Sciences Library's core users. The issues of adequate study and collaboration space in Clark Hall will be addressed, as well as access to course reserves and physical collections.

To offer suggestions or concerns, contact McCue at

Gwen Glazer is a staff writer for Library Communications.



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