Michael Bellmore, Staff Writer-
On the second floor of the Buley Library, the sign outside of room 207 reads “files.” The door is locked. Through the glass, the inside of a nearly empty room is visible. On the wall is a blank whiteboard. One door over, another locked room is empty.
Christina Baum, director of Library Services, said that since last November, three such rooms have stood empty and locked.
“These all are study rooms,” Baum said.
In March 2009, renovation of the old Buley Library building was halted, said Baum, and, as a result, space in the library is tight. Two study rooms are used for the storage of library supplies, and, according to Baum, these study rooms are the only spaces available to the library for storage. Baum’s own office is technically a student study room.
Last year, the announcement that the Promise Program would house its offices in the Buley Library added further pressure to the already cramped environment. The Promise Program, a joint effort between Yale University and New Haven, is intended to offer scholarships to New Haven area high school students. But the agreement that would have seen these offices situated in the Buley Library has fallen through.
“There has not been any announcement made about it, but the Provost has told me that the Promise Program is not coming,” said Baum.
Baum and other library employees said Southern had gone so far as to install new parking spaces behind the library labeled “Promise Program.” Certain concessions that the program had asked of Southern could not be met, Baum said. The parking signs have since been painted over and remain blank.
The Office of Public Affairs was unable to comment on the status of the Promise Program. Administration officials could not be reached at this time.
The three study rooms intended to be used for the program remain empty.
“I have asked for them to be used – to be opened up for group study, but the Provost has not approved that yet,”Baum said.
She said she has repeatedly asked Provost Selase Williams to open the rooms.
“The librarians here, they want that space for the students. And I want to give it to them,” Baum said. “I’ll even give up my conference room — I really will give up that space to the students.”
Ben McNamee, president of Student Government, said that while the administration has oversight over “pretty much every building,” the student center is reserved for student space, so it is overseen by people who have the students’ needs in mind. He said he imagines the library should be seen in the same way.
“If the Promise Program had gone through, and this was something that it was going to be used for, that seems to make sense to me,” said McNamee. “If that has fallen through, and the administration is waiting for something else to go in, it should be at least released back to students who need study space to use it for group projects, because that’s what it was originally designed for.”
McNamee says that he plans to meet with the Vice President of Student Affairs Ronald Herron and Provost Williams to ask for the space to be returned to students, if indeed the Promise Program will not be utilizing the space.
In the meantime, the study rooms remain locked up.
“The library is here for the students,” Baum said. “Sometimes our hands are tied.”