California is broke, largely thanks to incompetent stewardship and Proposition 13, which limits the amount of income the state can bring in from property taxes. Education in particular is being heavily cut – and this is hitting close to home for me personally as well as the oceanography community as a whole. My home institution, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California, San Diego, may be forced to close its world-famous library.
The Scripps library is the largest oceanography library in the world, and has many collections found nowhere else. While about 100,000 volumes of the over 227,000 volumes have been digitally archived by Google, many scientists need resources that aren’t online – and you know that the Deep Sea News crew is generally in favor of Things Online.
Just in my time at graduate school, I’ve used the library extensively for taxonomy resources (not online) and data from cruises from the early 1970s (not online). Other resources that are at the Scripps library but not online are historic charts and maps, monographs from early oceanographic expeditions, archival material from Scripps’ history, and countless other material.
It’s very sad that we’ve come to this. I certainly understand the need for hard choices - for another example close to home, UCSD undergraduates’ tuition is going up by 8% after their fees went up 30% last year, and many of them can’t even graduate in four years because it’s so hard to get into required classes. But the potential closing of the Scripps library breaks my heart. So much work, time, and resources have been put into building this priceless collection over the past 100 years, and we’re going to lose it just as we need ocean science the most.
If you’d like to speak out regarding the closure of the Scripps library, check out the Save SIO Library Facebook page. You can also sign a petition to keep the library open by emailing your name and affiliation to SaveSIOLibrary at gmail dot com.