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Hoover/SUL Realignment

January 22, 2001


Stanford Daily

Stanford University

Stanford, CA 94305

Dear Editor:

We wish to respond to the concerns about the Hoover Library that were raised in your article of January 16 and editorial of January 18.

First, we want to assure you that the changes proposed do not result from any arbitrary action against the Hoover Institution. Over the past few years, we at the Hoover Institution and our colleagues at the Stanford University Libraries (SUL) have been studying ways in which to achieve a more efficient integration of library collections and services at the university. The proposal now before the University Provost is a product of these joint efforts.

Second, the proposal under consideration does not close the Hoover Library or diminish the library collecting programs at Stanford. Over the years, the Hoover Library, with funds provided by the University and in coordination with the University Libraries, has built library collections covering specified subjects and geographical areas. These efforts have produced strong collections on political, economic, and social change in many important regions of the world. In recent years, however, SUL has developed its capacity to collect similar materials. Consequently, the coordination of efforts between our two organizations has become less efficient, and the division of our responsibilities less clear.

The proposed realignment seeks to eliminate redundancy of effort and to clarify responsibilities. It accomplishes this by transferring from the Hoover Library to SUL, together with related staff and other resources, the responsibility for acquiring general library materials (books, newspapers, and periodicals). With resources received from the realignment, SUL will further strengthen its collecting program, and thus carry on the same intensity of collecting that characterized the library collecting program at Hoover.

At the same time, the realignment leaves in place Hoover’s program of acquiring special materials (personal papers, records of organizations, pamphlets, leaflets, posters, and other fugitive material), which are and have always been central to our mission. Indeed, by freeing up the time of Hoover’s curatorial staff for this purpose, it substantially strengthens our special collecting program. Thus, the new division of responsibility, by providing clarity of purpose, allows each of us to focus our resources on what we do best.

Third, we want to assure you that the proposal does not envision transferring rare books from the Hoover Library to open shelves at SUL, where they might become vulnerable to loss. However, in order to enhance access, it does contemplate the possibility of transferring some general materials that now reside in our closed stacks to SUL’s open stacks. Hoover retains complete authority over what is transferred and what remains in our buildings. We certainly will not put at risk any of the rare materials that Hoover collectors have painstakingly acquired over the past eighty years.

The proposal increases access in other ways. All persons who register to use Hoover’s collections, including those visiting from outside Stanford, will be issued a card that grants free access to the collections at SUL. Thus, any materials transferred to SUL and all materials newly acquired by SUL that otherwise would have been acquired by Hoover, will be accessible without charge to the many scholars outside Stanford who have come to rely on the Hoover Library.

An important by-product of the realignment for the Hoover Library is the realization of new space for our collections. The new space will allow us to continue our very successful program of collecting archival and other special materials, especially on the end of communism and the transition to democracy that has taken place in many parts of the world. The Hoover Library, as a world-renowned repository for unique and endangered materials, will become an even greater resource for scholarship.

Finally, we reject the notion, suggested by some, that the proposed realignment violates the founding mission of the Hoover Library, as conceived by Herbert Hoover. In fact, the realignment is consistent with it. It is certainly true that the Hoover Library has always collected some general library materials.

However, since its founding in 1919, the emphasis of the collecting program has been on special materials, and the acquisition of books and other general materials did not become a significant element until the mid-1960s.

In the mid-1960s, when new funds became available from both the University and Hoover’s own successful fund-raising efforts, the Hoover Library broadening its collecting mission. In addition to its historic role as a library of special materials, it assumed a substantially larger role in meeting the University’s need for general library materials in certain defined subject areas. An indication of this change is an increase in the acquisition of books, which averaged 7,230 volumes per year between 1961-65, and 16,860 volumes per year between 1966-70 -- a level that it has generally maintained since. Thus, from the mid-1960s the Hoover Library assumed a responsibility that otherwise would have fallen to SUL.

The proposed realignment seeks not to diminish, but to strengthen both SUL and the Hoover Library. If it is implemented, SUL will assume its proper role of meeting the needs of the academic program for general library materials. At the same time, the Hoover Library will more effectively fulfill its historic mission by increasing its capacity to collect special materials. Taking into account the resources at both SUL and Hoover, we believe that the sum of the parts will be greater after realignment than it is now.

Sincerely yours,


John Raisian

Director, Hoover Institution

Charles G. Palm

Deputy Director, Hoover Institution

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| Table of Contents | Transmittal Memo | Library Reorganization | Attachment 1 | Supplement to Attachment 1 | Timetable |
| Timetable East Asia | Hoover FAQ | Project Budget | Keller Letter to Editor | Raisian/Palm Letter to Editor |
| Etchemendy Letter to Editor | Message from the Provost |