Monday, October 19, 2009

Deep cuts wound Emory's libraries

Posted By on Mon, Oct 19, 2009 at 10:31 PM

click to enlarge PAPER TRAILS: Pulitzer Prize-winning author and activist Alice Walker (left) views manuscripts of her novel The Color Purple with Emory University’s Rudolph Byrd. Walker’s archives are housed in the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library at Emory.
  • PAPER TRAILS: Pulitzer Prize-winning author and activist Alice Walker (left) views manuscripts of her novel The Color Purple with Emory University’s Rudolph Byrd. Walker’s archives are housed in the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library at Emory.

What’s the most valuable resource filed away and catalogued in the Emory University Libraries? Could it be the first-edition copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses from 1922? One sold in London for 275,000 pounds earlier this summer. Actually, the copy of Ulysses is just a single volume of the 75,000 rare and first editions included in the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library, which opened at Emory in 2004.

There’s also the Flannery O’Connor archives, rich with handwritten correspondence and childhood ephemera. And don’t forget Sir Salman Rushdie’s archives, which were placed here in 2006 with an undisclosed price tag, as were Alice Walker’s papers in 2007. And that’s all aside from the invaluable library staff, which includes specialized liaisons for more than 50 subjects.

As Emory responds to a shrinking $4.3 billion endowment, though, some faculty members are expressing concern for the future of the library’s collections and workforce. In a letter published at the beginning of the year, university president Jim Wagner cited “worldwide financial turmoil” while explaining that the value of Emory’s endowment and investment portfolio had shrunk by more than 20 percent. On Sept. 23, Emory announced a $1 million library budget cut, which included the elimination of 29 out of 178 total jobs. Twenty-seven employees were laid off. “What we think of as the heart of the university is being cut deeply,” says Lynne Huffer, professor and chair of women's studies at Emory.

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(Photo courtesy Emory Photo/Video)

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