Once again the University at Buffalo has embarked on a grand plan to upgrade its facilities. In the last upgrade, its major achievement was an arts center. While this attracted more alumni donations, it did nothing for the most talented and serious of students.
While many of the upgrades in this new plan focus on items that are sorely needed, it has once again left out the central pillar of any university -- its library system.
The university's library has been the unwanted orphan in every plan devised so far. As with local politicians, leaders of the university just don't get it. Talented students will endure all other shortcomings of any university except one, the library system. Books are not just repositories of information but have embedded in them the thinking processes of the author. Highly intelligent students not only read for the informational content, but for this thinking process as well.
The nation's best universities know the value of a great library and place it at the top of any list of improvements and upgrades. With many good students in short supply these days, only a continual emphasis on the library system by the university's leaders will convince any talented student not only to attend UB, but to stay to attain a degree.
I hope that one day the library will be treated as a prominent part of every upgrade plan. Once the library becomes the focal point of any discussion, the university will garner a truly great reputation under its current president, William R. Greiner.