Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Ft. Huachuca Library

Thanks to a coworker for alerting me to the news that the main library at Ft. Huachuca is to be closed. In a letter to Acting Secretary of the Army Preston Geren (PDF), ALA President Leslie Burger called for the library to be kept open. Dan Cornwall also criticizes the closure at the Free Government Information blog. Having spent 4 months at Huachuca just last year, I feel I can add a little bit of perspective on this issue.

-To be honest, I never actually used the main library at Huachuca, due to its limited hours and distance. Like most students at the US Army Intelligence School (USAIS), I used the Military Intelligence Library, which is nestled right in the middle of the Intel School complex. It is open till 8:00 PM on weeknights, is within reasonable walking distance of the AIT student barracks (15 minutes), and is easily accessible when on break from class. To address one of Dan Cornwall's concerns, the MI Library has almost all of the books on the various Army reading lists, and is designed specifically to meet the information needs of students at the USAIS.

-As far as access to electronic resources, all Army personnel have access to Academic Search Premier, MasterFile Premier, and EBSCO's Military and Government Collection via something called Army Knowledge Online (AKO). Soldiers can login to AKO from any computer with Internet access.

-I also visited the Sierra Vista Public Library on several occasions, admittedly just for the free wireless. It is an excellent facility, and is only a 10-15 minute drive from Ft. Huachuca. As far as getting off and on the base, this is not a major issue. Vehicles leaving the base are not checked, and the longest wait I ever had to get on base was 5 minutes. The only time that entering Ft. Huachuca might be an issue, other than emergencies, is during the morning when people are coming in to work. Besides, many military personnel live in Sierra Vista, as opposed to on post. Considering that Sierra Vista starts about 200 yards past the main gate, proximity is not a concern.

-There is a broader issue at Ft. Huachuca regarding spending on morale and recreation facilities. A lot of them have been forced to limit their hours and/or are somewhat run down. The PX, for example, is not on the same level as those at Ft. Bragg or Ft. Leonard Wood. Huachuca is a smaller facility that has to fight for funding.

-Having said all this, it would be far better to have Ft. Huachuca's main library open than closed. I think President Berger has a point when she says that the library offers services and expertise on soldier and military dependent issues not possessed by the Sierra Vista Public Library. Hopefully, a reasonable solution, and appropriate funding, can be found.


Anonymous Greg said...

How does the military school relate to the base? Could the base population use the school library?

6:18 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Just wanted to belatedly respond to Greg's question.

The US Army Intelligence Center and Intelligence School (USAIC & IS) is located right in the middle of Ft. Huachuca. The MI Library is part of the USAIC & IS, and is a special as opposed to a public library. It is designed to meet the information and research needs of service members studying intelligence and military issues. I don't know if military dependents are allowed to use it. If so, they probably wouldn't find it that helpful.

1:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ARMY really does want to close more libraries and is NOT consulting their soldiers, the families on base, the civilian workforce or the retirees.

I know. I am within a community that faces this threat in 2009.

Library staff members are being discouraged from discussing this and are being fed or directed to feed misleading information to patrons who ask about these "partnerships." Partnership, for the purpose of the Municiple Service Partnerships" means the closure of libraries.

8:15 PM  

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