What’s a library without librarians?

UPDATE: A review of the current (2010-11) and proposed 2011-12 budgets, we’re surprised to see that after the Administration lays off the three librarians, the Personal Services line shows a savings of only $15,720.

The Board plans to create three unemployed professional librarians, put the college’s accreditation at risk, decimate our students’ access to information and deplete the information literacy component of hundreds of classes, all to save $15,720?

At least the Library Director/Dean will be able to secure a $4,563 raise (5.5%) next year. That’s a relief.

(Original Post): All three full time faculty librarians were given pink slips last week. These dedicated librarians manage MHCC’s collections, subscriptions, electronic databases, provide reference services, coordinate the library instruction program, and teach information literacy to hundreds of sections of classes each year. On an average day in February, 1750 students used the library on the Gresham campus.

Surprisingly, the college recently allocated $100,814 to a new branch library at the Maywood Park campus. In February, only an average of 28 students used this new branch each day.

The decision to eliminate the librarians was made without consulting any of the five Councils that are tasked with advising  the President so that he can carry out the College Goals: Teaching and Learning, Community Engagement and Resource Development. In fact, the decision was made without consulting any library users at all.

It’s a decision that’s both tragic and nonsensical. But wait, there’s more…

Shortly after the librarians received the news by telephone, the library’s dean, Jeff Ring announced that an expensive outside consultant was hired to facilitate a “LEAN” study. Why conduct a study AFTER such a monumental decision has already been made? Maybe he’ll recommend hiring three librarians?

With this decision, MHCC will gain a singular honor— it will be the only Oregon college or university without full time professional librarians.

In a recent interview with OPB, MHCC President Sygielski says the key is to identify the programs that are most important to east Multnomah County, and build a teaching force around those programs. “Either look at re-training, re-tooling those individuals to go into programs that will be able to serve our communities – the educational needs of those communities – or who may have to be moved into another opportunity outside of Mt. Hood Community College.”

By cutting these faculty librarians, his message is loud and clear: East County students aren’t worthy of the talents of professional librarians.

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