FAQ about the Fine Arts Library

Has a decision has been made to close the Fine Arts Library?

Reports of the demise or closure of the Fine Arts Library are greatly exaggerated. It is true that we continue to re-evaluate traditional uses of the Fine Arts Library—as we have done for the last decade or longer. For the moment, however, no decision has been made about the disposition of the Fine Arts collection on the fifth floor of the Doty Fine Arts Building or about the overall future of the Fine Arts Library.

How will decisions be made about future use of the fifth floor—and about the Fine Arts Library more generally?

Two working groups will be formed:

The first, under the leadership of the UT Libraries, will explore and evaluate the alternatives to having the Fine Arts collection on the fifth floor of the Doty Fine Arts Building—in part or whole—and will explore the drawbacks and advantages of those alternatives.

The second will consider a) what facilities our new programs need and b) what spaces in the College of Fine Arts, throughout all our buildings and facilities in every department and school, could accommodate these expanding programs. All current spaces throughout the College of Fine Arts facilities will be considered, including the Doty Fine Arts Building.

There will be faculty and student representation in these working groups.

How were the members of the Task Force selected?

For representatives from the College of Fine Arts, Dean Dempster asked each chair in the Department of Art and Art History, Butler School of Music and the Department of Theatre and Dance to nominate one faculty member and one graduate student. He also reached out to the Fine Arts Student Council to nominate an undergraduate student. The dean selected the two faculty members, a graduate student and an undergraduate student from these nominations to fill the four spots.

For representatives from the UT Libraries, Vice Provost Haricombe asked Wendy Martin, Assistant Director of Stewardship, to chair the task force. Martin is a trained conservator with extensive experience in preservation and stewardship of both analog and digital collections. Haricombe and members of the UTL executive team selected the additional three librarians on the basis of their experience with the Fine Arts Library and their experience with collection management issues.

When will we hear their recommendations?

The task force has been asked to report out its findings by April 2, 2018.

Where can I provide my opinion to the Task Force?

The task force will be accepting input via email at fal-taskforce@lib.utexas.edu.

How much of the Fine Arts Library holdings are currently stored off-site?

Approximately 60 percent of the Fine Arts collection is not in the Doty Fine Arts Building. The Fine Arts Library in the Doty Fine Arts Building currently holds approximately 200,000 items.  Items have recently been moved to renovate the fourth floor.  Shifting items to storage to make space for new acquisitions is also part of the daily library operation and has been for decades.

If the Fine Arts Library materials are moved out of the Doty Fine Arts Building, how will that affect access to those materials?

If more of the collection is relocated, providing easy access to the most frequently requested items would be a primary objective for both the college and the Libraries.  Some of the collection could be relocated to other main campus libraries, for example PCL or the Main Building.  These facilities are closer to many students’ residences and have more extended hours than the FAL, so relocating the collection could improve access for many.

In the last twelve months, how many items have been removed from the Fine Arts Library?

In the last year, materials previously housed on the fourth floor and behind the service desk were consolidated into the fifth floor stacks or moved off-site. More than 75,000 books, scores and bound volumes of periodicals, as well as 75,000 CDs and DVDs were relocated off-site.

If the Fine Arts collection is moved off the fifth floor of the Doty Fine Arts Building, how long will it take for me to get the books, scores or periodicals I need for class or research?

There is typically a one- to three-business day turnaround time, depending on when the request is received and whether it is being retrieved from the main campus or remote storage.  The Libraries administration is increasing investment in the various modes of retrieval from off-site locations to shorten turnaround times.

Why do I see different storage locations when I search for material in the catalog?

The University of Texas Libraries participates in two shared storage facilities and an on campus depository. Both of the shared storage facilities are designed to promote security and preservation of library materials. The underlying goals of the storage units is to ensure that the stored items are available for users when they need them, whether that is today or years in the future.

The Library Storage Facility (LSF) is on the Pickle Research Campus and houses materials from several UT Austin Collections, including the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, the Tarlton Law Library and the Harry Ransom Center. Materials at LSF can be requested through the catalog using the “Get a Scan” or “Pick it Up” services.

The Joint Library Facility (JLF) is a partnership between the UT System, the Texas A&M System and other affiliate members to house items held in each participating library’s collection (Resources in Common). Any item that we deposit at JLF or that we claim as a Resource in Common is still owned by the UT Libraries and is reflected in our catalog. UT Libraries InterLibrary Services software interfaces with the inventory software at JLF and is therefore used to request materials from JLF.

Materials housed on the UT campus at the Collections Deposit Library (CDL) include older formats like vinyl records, VHS tapes, microforms and slides. In addition, CDs and DVDs are stored at CDL for retrieval upon request via Pick It Up or Get a Scan.

Materials requested from storage are generally available within 48–72 hours.

Will moving materials offsite affect accreditation for programs in the College of Fine Arts?

Accreditation standards require that the university "maintain library holdings and/or electronic access to holdings . . . of sufficient size and scope to complement the nature and levels of the total instructional program . . ., to provide incentive for individual learning, and to support research appropriate for its faculty.” Accreditation standards don’t specify the physical location of a collection.

Most of the College of Fine Arts graduate programs are not located in the same building as the Fine Arts collection. The majority of the Fine Arts collection outgrew the Doty Fine Arts Building years ago and is not and has not been located “onsite” or in Fine Arts facilities. This has not damaged the competitiveness of our programs.

The growth of digital collections to support academic communities has slowed but not halted the acquisition of physical materials by research universities, and the limitations of space have resulted in the widespread practice of remote storage among academic libraries (see “Off-Site Storage and Special Collections: A Study in Use and Impact in ARL Libraries in the United States” by Charlotte Priddle and Laura McCann). The libraries at the university have employed offsite storage and retrieval since 1991.

The collections of the Fine Arts Library will continue to be accessible to users—whether onsite or via retrieval from remote storage—and controlled offsite preservation will extend the life of materials housed there for future generations of scholars.

If I check out more books than I need or drop off books at the reshelving locations, can I influence the circulation count and prevent moving books to other locations?

This is a myth. The strategic needs of the college and the university will drive the future use of library space, including how many print items are stored on the main campus. 

If I enter the front entrance of Fine Arts Library as often as possible, will visitor counts go up and help influence the decisions to possibly relocate materials?
This is not true, but please do visit the library often, including Saturday afternoons.