August 24, 2005
There were protests, but none of the violence that had been expected, as the last books left the former Undergraduate Library at the University of Texas. The facility, housed in the Flawn Academic Center, opened in 1963 and was the campus’s first open-shelf library for undergraduates. The removal completes the planned disengagement.
The presence of the Undergraduate Library, or UGL, was always regarded as a “bone in the throat” by computer-savvy academics, as the staffing and machinery necessary for circulation and restocking got in the way of computer labs (such as the Student Microcomputer Facility or “Smurf,” the first large-scale undergraduate lab) and facilities for computing research (such as the Computer Writing and Research Lab), which was relegated to the basement with the undergraduate literary magazine.
Computer users, nervous about whether or not the promised pullout would occur, started up security programs. But when solemn librarians actually did cart off the final books, the mood changed to one of jubilation. Older computer users handed out candy to undergraduates – permissible, since food is now allowed in the building.
It remains to be seen whether or not there will be reason to continue the celebration. University of Texas President Larry Faulkner has pledged to keep installing more and more books in other libraries around campus.