A Minor Rant

The woes of being an independent student department
About a year ago Honnold Library at the Claremont Colleges moved all (or most) of their considerable periodical holdings to an off campus “Records Center.” In so doing they make room for a café among other things. Now if one is qualified and wants to look at a journal one needs to request a copy from the Records Center. Over the last couple of months, Lois, the person who takes care of these requests, has helped me from time to time but has always gently reminded me that I need to submit my requests via an online access form rather than by email. So, yesterday, I tried the online request form and discovered that I couldn’t login. I assumed that was because I was an alumnus and didn’t have a password. I asked the helpful Records Center person if he had any ideas as to how I could do things the way he wanted me to do them. He checked with his boss and this morning I received the following email,

Good Morning,
Luis asked me to write to you about using Interlibrary Loan since I’m the coordinator for the Unit. Here is a list from our policy statement who can use our services:
Who can borrow?
Interlibrary borrowing privileges are available to faculty, emeritus faculty, staff and students of The Claremont Colleges. ILL is not available to Claremont Colleges alumni or to other community-card holders.
Unfortunately, since you are an alumni, you are not eligible for this service. May I suggest you visit your local library, most of them offer Interlibrary Loan Service to their community users.
Hope this information has been helpful to you.
Michelle Levers
Interlibrary Loan Coordinator
Honnold/Mudd Library

Now isn’t that wonderful! Bottom line: to get a journal article from a bound periodical that one year ago was on an open stack in the library, I now must send an email to my friend the reference librarian at School of Theology, less than a half a mile north of Honnold. She will then send an email to Lois at the Record Center who will then copy the article and then send it to her at School of Theology. She will then email it to me.
But the café is nice!

3 thoughts on “A Minor Rant”

  1. Don’t worry — in 10 years time they’ll be selling all the books for waste paper. Then they’ll dismiss all the staff and sell the building. Won’t be needed, you see — everything on PDF and online and … behind a firewall inaccessible to “alumni” like you and I.
    It is morally wrong for those of us whose taxes pay for these things — and few universities are not plugged into public funds *somewhere* — to be debarred from using them.
    Worth a letter to your local representative in government, perhaps? Pointing out the elitism involved in this, and how it obstructs education by those in work?

  2. Roger,
    I doubt that writing my representative will do much good even as a point of protest. The Claremont Colleges are private Colleges and Honnold library is their private library. While you are right that some public funds are involved, the current structure of things would make bothering my representative about this when I have far more important things to bother him about rather useless. I do plan to take this up with the alumni association and president of the Claremont Graduate University.

  3. Damn. One of the things I loved about Honnold Library was the periodical collection, including many nineteenth century series that are hard to find elsewhere (though at least some of those are now digitized and online). I spent many hours there leafing through periodicals old and new, familiarizing myself with their peculiarities, approaches, strengths, weaknesses, whatever. The London Illustrated News was one of them–years later, when I had occasion to refer to the work of William Simpson (who made a trip around the world for them in 1872-3) I immediately knew what to expect just from having spent time with the paper back in college.
    There are things you just can’t get from getting an article in an email.

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