The occupation of the U.C. Berkeley Anthropology Library ended last week on Monday, July 17, after 85 days. The struggle was long and hard fought, but it was victorious. While the occupation did not achieve all of its goals, it succeeded in preserving the Anthropology Library and most of the book collection, as well as ensuring continued access to the Anthropology Library for the public. Compared to the UC administration’s initial goal of completely shutting down the Anthropology Library and removing all the books, this is a significant win.
It could not have been achieved without tireless organizing work. Students, both graduate and undergraduate, came together from across campus to save the library. Students within the Anthropology Department organized themselves into Save the Anthropology Library (SAL) and were soon joined by community members, other students, and faculty within the Anthropology Department. Students from the Mathematics and Physics Departments, whose libraries are also threatened or have been shutdown, joined to fight against the austerity and budget cut mentality of the U.C. administration.
The library occupiers organized protests against the university’s head librarian, Jeffery Mackie-Mason (who resigned at the end of this past school year) and against Chancellor Christ. They held press conferences throughout the occupation to draw attention to their struggle and build more support on campus. And nightly meetings were held in the Anthropology Library, open to everyone, to organize and decide on how to continue the fight.
The victory of the Anthropology Library occupation is a success and a model we can all follow. Even in the face of an obstinate administration, committed to cutting the core services of a university, an organized and determined struggle managed to resist and then win.