At the far end of the Forty Acres, the Fine Arts Library, FAL, is, to most students, an unvisited no-man’s land. To others, the FAL is crucial to their everyday college experience. In this community space, students interact with book collections, congregate in study rooms and create works of art in pursuit of becoming better academics.
While the FAL provides opportunities to many students, the ongoing relocation of its books to off-campus locations has also affected student experiences. These two aspects of the FAL have varying impacts on students who utilize the study space regularly. Raul Facundo Gomez, vocal performance senior, said that his best FAL experience was witnessing music students’ research presentations.
“On the first floor, the students had sections and booths to talk about their projects,” Facundo Gomez said. “It gave me a new perspective on music. Those kinds of events show that music students aren’t just always reading books. They’re also writing papers, writing in journals and discussing topics.”
Zoe Cagan, music performance junior, said the FAL’s view of the tower provided her with her most cherished and “abstract” memory.
“One day, I looked out the window as the sun was setting right over the tower, and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen,” Cagan said. “I felt inundated with what I was studying and it shined the light on why I was there at UT. I just remember being in that library, seeing all of this, and realizing how I was trying to change the world.”
To make way for the new arts and entertainment technologies major, UT’s College of Fine Arts, COFA, website reports that approximately 60 percent of their collection has been moved off-campus. Isabella Luna, vocal music studies freshman, said the FAL’s shrinking book collection is her “stress reliever.”
“Whenever I’m really stressed, I go to the fifth floor (of the FAL) and just look at all the books,” Luna said. “I was one of those kids who always read, so I’m very comforted by libraries like this.”
Luna also said in comparison to other libraries on campus, she feels more welcome at the FAL.
“The FAL is a safe spot for fine arts majors,” Luna said. “If I were to pull out a score and start analyzing it at the PCL, I’m sure I would get a few weird looks. Here, it’s completely normal.”
These ongoing changes to the FAL have altered some students’ everyday experiences. For example, Cagan said her worst memory of the FAL — being unable to locate a needed resource for class — is
related to this change.
“This resource was so basic that I was surprised that our library didn’t have it,” Cagan said. “I was frustrated because I thought, ‘How am I supposed to study this piece, get better knowledge and be an educated musician if this basic resource is not here?’”
Facundo Gomez said the introduction of new technology has impacted his FAL experiences.
“They brought these 3-D printing machines to replace what used to be study spaces and books,” Facundo Gomez said. “These machines are very loud, and they affect the way I study.”
Cagan said she worries about how changes to the FAL will affect future COFA students’ college experiences.
“Though I care so much about this (library), I feel that UT22, UT23 and everyone behind them won’t care because there will be nothing for them to care about,” Cagan said. “We know that there’ll probably not be much of a change while we’re here, but if future students who have a love for the fine arts or want to become a new person in that sense don’t have these opportunities, everything will be for nothing.”