We urge you to reconsider the proposed parking fees for Getty Research Institute Readers. This announcement came barely a month before the parking fees are slated to go into effect, giving the research community little time to react to a policy that will undoubtedly undermine the GRI’s mission and compromise the scholarship it supports.
As members of this community, we are outraged by principles conveyed by this policy. To impose a parking fee on researchers will make the GRI’s resources less widely accessible. In a country where class divisions and differences in access are getting wider by the day, to create a similar gulf at the Getty is unconscionable. Moreover, this policy will discourage publications and dissertation projects that promote the GRI’s resources, and will jeopardize those projects already underway.
The complex graduated fee structure, presented as “payment options,” deflects attention from the real thrust of this policy: the conversion of a community of scholars into a source of revenue, a conversion that will make regular use of the GRI’s resources impossible for many of its researchers. Under this new policy, GRI users may “elect” to purchase three-month or yearly passes, at $50/$75 and $175/$275 for Stack and Extended Readers respectively, or pay $15 for each visit. For students and researchers already living on very limited funds — many at only a couple thousand dollars above poverty level — these fees constitute a substantial expense.
Make no mistake: although these fees are framed as “parking passes,” they are users fees. Public transportation to the Getty is limited and potentially unsafe, particularly for Extended Readers leaving the Institute late in the evening, and there are no bike paths to the Getty Center. The new parking policy thus constitutes the transformation of GRI users from a community of scholars, one that includes graduate students, area faculty, and independent researchers, into a new revenue stream. This commodification of research and researchers runs counter to the GRI’s own mission: "furthering knowledge and advancing understanding of the visual arts" through its research library and special collections.
We ask that you value the research, publications, and dissertations compromised by this parking policy above the marginal revenue it may bring. The scholarship of the group hit hardest by these fees — the graduate students and young researchers who cannot afford this sudden and significant levy — can only benefit the GRI. In support of them, the greater community of which they form a vital part, and the ideals that undergird it, call off the parking fees. Researchers aren’t revenue.
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