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Library petition to be submitted

Sarah Mervosh | Friday, November 6, 2009

The petition for library reform that garnered more than 1,200 student signatures is expected to be ready for submission by next week, said graduate student David Morris, who began the petition.

The petition called for an increase in both the number of collections and in professional staff, as well as the renovation of the entire building, Morris said.

The petition will be submitted to University President Fr. John Jenkins and other prominent leaders of the University when the organizers of the petition approve a corresponding memorandum, he said.

Morris said the memorandum will provide more details for what the petition asks and answer common questions.

“Our effort, admittedly, has been met with a lot of controversy and a lot of people have had questions about it,” he said. “It details the decline of our book acquisitions, the massive shortage of staff that we have, and puts it in a comparative frame work so that we can see how Notre Dame’s library compares among dozens of universities,” Morris said.

The memorandum also anticipates arguments against library reform, he said.

“They say that there isn’t enough money. They say it’s not necessary,” Morris said. “They say that trying to compare Notre Dame to Harvard and Yale and the Ivy league schools is somehow wrong or inappropriate.

“We can’t use the recession or the fact that there are hard times right now as an excuse because if you look at the numbers, the recession has actually bolstered Notre Dame’s position.”

Notre Dame went into the recession as 10th among private universities in endowments and now ranks seventh, he said.

Morris also countered the idea that improving the Library means Notre Dame wants to become an Ivy League school.

“Notre Dame should never strive to be another university, we should be ourselves. But the point is we do have to look at other universities for what we want to do,” Morris said.

“If you ask the average person on the street or for that matter, most academics, what are the best universities in the world?” he said. “You think of Harvard, you think of Yale, you think of Oxbridge and Cambridge across the Atlantics.

“What do they all have in common? They have very large libraries and their academic life is centered around them,” Morris said.

As a graduate student, Morris said he most likely will not be around as a student to see the effects of the petition if it is accepted, because the improvements will take time.

Yet Morris has worked on creating a petition to improve the library for months.

“I love Notre Dame. I’m a Domer. I want Notre Dame to be thought of in the same breath as Princeton and Yale and Stanford,” he said. “And right now there is no possible way that is going to happen so long as we have the 57th largest library in the country.”

Morris hopes to submit the petition, the memorandum, a full list of signatures and a brief statistical breakdown of those who signed it next week.