Law Center Announces Plans to Repurpose Wolff Library

wolff-mediumpicIn a campus-wide email sent Monday morning, Law Center Dean William Treanor announced the administration’s plan to relocate and repurpose the John Wolff International & Comparative Law Library, currently located in the Hotung International Law Building, in order to make way for as-yet undetermined alternative uses.

Students were made aware of the change as part of the announcement of a larger space planning announcement.  The email opened by informing students that Sheply Bulfinch, the architectural firm which worked on the Hotung building, has been engaged by the Law Center to assist with “both short-term and long-term space planning.”

The decision to rearrange the libraries is being made to “consolidate the library collection so that all library materials are in the same building. This will simplify operations for the Law Center and will benefit students by preventing the need to go to two separate buildings to find their sources.”  While students will surely appreciate not having to trek across campus to track down books, the most immediate impact for many students is likely to be the loss of a significant amount of study space in the Wolff library.

It is unknown if and how the administration plans to account for this loss of study areas in deciding to repurpose the Wolff space.  However, Treanor’s email did note that “the Law Center will be seeking student, faculty, and staff input on how to effectively use the space.”  Treanor reassured students that “student study space remains a priority even with this anticipated move…at least a part of the Wolff Library would continue as study space and we anticipate access to this space would be 24/7.”

Student Bar Association President Sandor Callahan offered his response  in a campus-wide email sent Monday afternoon.  He noted that the decision to repurpose the Wolff space was made without SBA input, and called for all interested students to make their voices heard through emailing SBA and responding to Law Center surveys.  He also noted that Michelle Wu, Associate Dean for Library Services, will be attending the SBA meeting on October 4th to directly engage with students on the issue.

In a statement provided to the Law Weekly, Callahan reassured students that having as much study space as needed is a top priority for SBA.  “While I applaud the efforts and wholeheartedly agree with the efforts of the Law Center to focus on the mental heal issues for law students, Wolff, as it is, is not only an alternative to Williams but it provides a positive space — with an open design and abundant natural lighting, it is a great place for students to study.”

“Even since my email went out a few hours ago, multiple students have approached me in support of Wolff.  Unlike other spaces where they have expressed feeling claustrophobic or trapped, students feel comfortable at Wolff.”

While Dean Wu will not attend the SBA meeting this Tuesday, the library reshuffle will surely be a topic for discussion.  SBA meetings take place at 9:00pm on every other Tuesday, in Hotung H2000.

This is not the first space management change to affect students this year.  Starting this fall, the former Student Organization offices in the front of the McDonough  have been occupied by the Office of Public Interest and Community Service.  which previously only occupied the space next door.

The Wolff Library opened in 2004 and contains more than 107,000 volumes of law.  Students appreciate it as an alternative to the older E.B. Williams Law Library, with a more modern, open design with plentiful study areas.  The Wolff Library is named for John Wolff, a professor who taught at the Law Center for 42 years, beginning in 1961.

Interested in having your voice heard on this or any other law or law school related issue?  Email Editor in Chief David Nayer at dan31@georgetown.edu if you would like to submit an opinion article.

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