HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The U.S. Army is defending a decision to close its historic 57-year-old space and technical library at Redstone Arsenal.
Army officials said it was a joint decision made by interested parties.
The Redstone Scientific Information Center, or RSIC, closed its doors Sept. 30, Al.com reported. The center was established in 1962 by a charter between the Army and NASA. It was overseen by a board of directors made up of senior leaders and scientists at Redstone's various missile organizations.
Dr. Wernher von Braun and Maj. Gen. Francis "Frank" McMorrow agreed to build the original facility, which held information about rocketry and space science used to advance United States rocket programs.
In a statement released this week, the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center, or AvMC, said the collection had become too big and expensive to maintain.
"The sheer size of the collection - approximately 450,000 items - demanded an increase in space requirements," the statement said. But it added decreased funding and resources have made it untenable to continue managing the library.
AvMC said the library is now virtual and "consists of online-only access to scientific journals and e-books" plus electronic versions of technical documents. The e-documents will not be fully available until July 2021.
As for the rest, NASA documents were returned to NASA and "excess library materials" will be offered to other Defense Department or government libraries first locally and then outside Huntsville. The Army's statement said there are "no plans at this time to create another local library approaching the size and scope of RSIC for the entire Redstone Arsenal community."
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center said it "has acquired selected books and other documents from RSIC and is in the process of developing an on-site library, which will be a branch of the NASA agency-wide library system."
Marshall said its employees will "have access to RSIC's online subscriptions through spring 2020." After that, "the NASA agency on-line library will provide subscriptions for all centers including Marshall."