Open Letter from Naropa Student About Ginsberg Library Controversy

From Naropa’s Sherri Pauli:

Respectfully, To Whom It May Concern: June 1, 2011

It has come to my attention that there is talk and planning in the Naropa administration to potentially move the Allen Ginsberg Library from its current home, the building built as The Allen Ginsberg Library on the Naropa Arapahoe Campus (the one with the plaque that says “Allen Ginsberg Library August 1993”), to the basement of the administration building on that campus, aka- the student center. This is very sad and frustrating, and it also just doesn’t make any sense. The Allen Ginsberg Library is already at full capacity as far as books and print materials go, with loads of donations that are piled high in boxes, just waiting for the space to be catalogued and shelved. If anything, the library building should be amended with an annex, not reduced in size.
As a long time library work-study and student I know how useful the library in its current physical manifestation is to professors, students, and staff alike. Moving the library to a place without any natural light and less space would inhibit the students’ studying, learning, and working needs and potentials. If this were to take place, it should be guided by a complete study based on circulation numbers, gate count numbers, and surveys, with full community cooperation and involvement.

The library is one of the finest gifts the students have, flanked by vining rose bushes and other glorious plants, sun as liquid gold falls through windows as the small reading room at the other side of the library building lobby is often full to capacity, as are all of the study desks in the library. Students who pay tens of thousands of dollars a year to procure an education at Naropa deserve an environment that is pleasing to the senses on every level from which to glean information and supplement the myriad projects, creative endeavors, papers, and dissertations that must be completed every semester.

Though there is often talk of books being outdated in our contemporary culture, this is not a cut and dry topic. Studies show that the information of printed media is absorbed by readers more readily, and that readers prefer reading print versus digital when reading for extended periods of time. Also, the Allen Ginsberg Library has amazing books that are collected and relevant to the different academic programs at Naropa University; they should be preserved, used, and loved to their fullest extent before being discarded or given up. Most books we have do not exist in digital format. A healthy balance of print and digital media is the sure way to academic success, and delight. Also, the administration building basement lies beneath the floodplain, and would be flooded in the event of the 100 year flood that is expected to occur, any time now. The books would be ruined.

The Allen Ginsberg Library is a monument to Allen Ginsberg, one of Naropa University’s original and most revered teachers, and a world-renowned visionary mind. Deconstructing the library as it stands now seems to be another step toward annihilating certain ever important founding values and spirits embedded in the Naropa culture– values that should be prompted to flourish at this time rather than disintegrate. The fact that there has been deliberations about whether or not the library is going to move seems surreptitious and unfair to people who care about Naropa, as faculty, student, staff, or alumni– simply for the fact that hardly anyone knows about it. As happened last summer, after the school clears of students, things are revealed and actions are taken in ways that seem more hierarchical and less community based. There is a notion of “community” that goes out in many emails and messages throughout the school, but the Naropa community at large still seems to be the last to find out about (let alone make decisions about) important actions and deliberations that go on in the ethers, presumably at the administrative level.

This message is an attempt to connect in a positive manner. My wishes are not to talk negatively about people and their decisions, but to find others who care about Naropa, The Allen Ginsberg Library, and the future of said institutions. There has been talk about the entire Naropa campus moving at some point in the future. Until Naropa moves locations, the students and hard working faculty, as well as the incredibly hard working and under appreciated Allen Ginsberg Library staff deserve the space originally intended for the library.
Since I work in the library, I would like to make it clear that I did not learn of this from any member of the library staff, but from another source who wishes to remain anonymous.

If you feel the same way, and are willing to make totally peaceful and informed motions toward securing the vital future of The Allen Ginsberg Library, the healthy education of Naropa Students, and the legacy of our amazing school, please let me know you feel that way, and I will add your name to a copy of this message that I will give to people who make decisions, so perhaps we might be in on that process.

If you do not want your name on any list, but have anything you would like to share, please do.

Also, let others who might be interested know.

Thank You,
Sherri Pauli
Current Naropa Student

9 thoughts on “Open Letter from Naropa Student About Ginsberg Library Controversy

  1. Deep-sixing the library in this way is laying the foundation for the failure of Naropa as an institution. The library is a college’s data and research center, the foundation that enables its entire academic program. It should be the most privileged place on campus for those who are using the school’s resources or learning there. Better by far to explore ways to expand the current library and make room for more archives, books, and data.

  2. At Loyola Chicago’s beautiful cathedral-like library, I studied for every examination I ever took. I constructed every research paper there. I wrote poetry there. I put my head down and dozed off. Sometimes I even checked out a book. Most importantly, I was inspired, and I can honestly say that the inspiration I felt allowed me to absorb much, much more.

  3. I was a Naropa Institute student back in the late nineties and I utilitzed the library several times per week. I researched, studied, wrote, and relaxed there and it was an important part of my experience as a student. Naropa is supposed to be a place of higher learning. What university relegates its library to the basement?

    1. Thanks, Alicia. This is all just hearsay at the moment, although the open letter comes from a respected student who has worked in the library for several years. If it’s true, I think you’re right: moving the library, one of the only places on Naropa’s less-than-spectacular campus they can show off to prospective students, to the basement of the administration building would be an insult not only to Ginsberg’s legacy but also to higher learning.

    1. We’ll see what actually happens. But I just heard that part of moving the legendary library into the administration building’s basement is to move administration into the library.

  4. I will avoid addressing the obvious implications of moving it somewhere where the bard it was named after, didn’t have the honor of it being dedicated in his lifetime (like the current home) & jump right to the fact that a basement in the flood plain is liking moving your kindling to the fireplace, it would eventually mean the end of all materials stored below ground level……

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