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Campus releases plan for Anthropology Library

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The latest plan retains part of the library's collection of anthropology books and resources, with dedicated spaces for community activities and an expanded reading room. 


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MAY 17, 2023

UC Berkeley Social Sciences Dean Raka Ray announced plans Tuesday to turn the George and Mary Foster Anthropology Library into an open space for students, faculty and community members, which will be controlled by the Anthropology Department, UC Berkeley spokesperson Janet Gilmore said in an email.

Ray said in an email the plan was influenced by “impassioned” student protests to keep the library open. This announcement is a part of the campus’s long-term library space plan, which outlined the merger of three libraries including the Anthropology Library, according to Gilmore.

Gilmore noted that the plan follows a proposal from Anthropology Department faculty regarding use of the library space. She explained that their proposal was sent to a university committee that then made a recommendation to Chancellor Carol Christ.

“The dean acknowledged that many students will be disappointed at not being able to preserve the circulating library,” Gilmore said in the email. “However, she said that the new plan is consistent with the Anthropology Library’s goals of fostering a deeper understanding of human culture, history and experience.”

Gilmore said the plan would retain some of the collection of anthropology books and resources, and the rest of the collection will be available at Doe Library or upon request. She added that there will be dedicated spaces for Native American tribal interactions and for student community space, as well as potentially an expanded reading room.

Jesús Gutiérrez, a doctoral candidate in anthropology and graduate student organizer of the occupation, said while anthropology department faculty and administration reached an agreement, campus has not acknowledged or negotiated with student and community occupiers themselves.

“It is time for the UC Berkeley administration to come to the table and negotiate not with the Anthropology Department, but with the occupation itself,” Gutiérrez said in an email. “Until then, we continue to occupy.”

Gutiérrez noted that the library serves as a public resource that does not require a student ID or paperwork for access. He said taking away this “digestible and accessible” collection and relocating it to another library would create accessibility issues.

As a graduate student, Gutiérrez said having this resource helps his students to think critically about social science and the study of real humans in context. He explained that many of his students see themselves represented in the books the library holds.

“They don’t want some random generic reading rooms,” Gutiérrez said. “They want a public Anthropology Library and they want a university that can support the priorities of a public institution that serves the community that serves its underrepresented minority students.”

Hoku Jeffrey, the national organizer for Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary, as well as a campus alumnus and former ASUC senator, said the occupation “continues to gather strength and support,” and that they intend to continue until the demands are met.

He added that the library should contain all the current books and materials, be available to the public, employ a professional librarian and be under the control of the anthropology department with the required funds to maintain the library.

Gutiérrez said without negotiation with the administration, the occupation would be unable to determine whether the plan aligns with their goal of establishing a public Anthropology Library.

“All of these different demonstrations, pickets, rallies that we’ve held outside their offices of different public engagements is a way for students to really show the administrators that they see them as public servants who are to be held accountable for what they’re doing with our education,” Gutiérrez said.

Contact Matthew Yoshimoto at 


MAY 21, 2023