Moorland-Spingarn May Be Forced to Close
Published: Friday, November 6, 2009
Updated: Friday, November 6, 2009 08:11
Due to financial and structural setbacks, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center (MSRC) may be forced to close its doors after 95 years of existence, according to MRSC Interim Director Thomas C. Battle, Ph.D.
"The loss of 60 percent of its resources and the abolishment of some critical positions due to the Voluntary Separation Incentive Retirement Program (VSIRP) resulted in many problems," Battle said.
MSRC is recognized as one of the world's largest and most comprehensive repositories for the documentation of the cultural history of people in the African Diaspora, according to Howard.edu. The center that holds the Black Caucus repository, information of TransAfrica, documents pertinent to the formation of the Black Greek Lettered Organizations and Howard University administrative records is facing a cut back in hours of operation and loss of staff.
According to Battle, MSRC formerly had a staff of 50 or more people but now only 12 staff members remain in the library division. Battle said critical positions that are vacant are director, chief librarian, chief administrator and prints and photography librarian.
"This should be a greater outcry," Battle said. "This is the premier place to research black history and culture."
Battle, who had been the director of MSRC for 20 years, retired as part of VSIRP along with Jean Church, chief librarian. Battle said they were asked to come back to the university to assist in running the research center.
By the end of this semester, no staff will be present in the Moorland-Spingarn Research Room resulting in its potential closure, Battle said. In addition, he said Moorland-Spingarn's budget was not increased and no plans have been drafted to direct or manage the facility or fill the vacant positions.
"I don't think many students even know this room exists," said Ciera Briscoe, a freshman business management major.
There is limited space for the manuscript division of Moorland-Spingarn for faculty to store inventory as well, Battle said. He added that much of the property that the research center owns is in storage.
"There is a lot of information in this one room that not a lot of students utilize," said Aaron Gordon, a freshman undecided major. "I come here for independent research and get to know black history."
Gordon said he utilizes Moorland-Spingarn to research past Hilltop articles, such as past protests on Howard's campus. But many times Gordon has come to the research center to find it closed for the day.
According to Battle, the research center will remain under staffed and hours will remain shorter than usual. He described the research center as a "magnificent treasure of Howard University."