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Library response to program closures?

November 19, 2010

Yesterday, our college president announced the closure of three campus programs in an effort to deal with massive structural deficits resulting from massive cuts in state aid.  Our campus will be “deactivating” the Communicative Disorders and Sciences Department, the Computer Science Department, and the Studio Arts Department.  (You can see the Presidents message and additional information about Geneseo here (and in the video below), and there have been news stories about the funding cuts and program closures at other campuses.)

After the announcement, many librarians gathered around our cubicles to discuss the issues.  Foremost on our minds was the upcoming job losses for our colleagues in the “deactivated” departments. Secondarily, we started thinking about what this means for library support of these departments.

We had a lot of questions and no concrete answers at this point.

  • How much of our library budget supports these departments?  How and when would that money be allocated elsewhere?  Is it enough that we might be able to avoid cuts elsewhere?
  • How much staff time is spent supporting these departments?  How will this change?  I am the liaison to the Computer Science Department, but I have never done a lot of information literacy instruction for them, and their other needs are minimal.  I can’t say the same for my colleagues who support the other departments.
  • We have received grant funds to help build a collection in Communicative Disorders and Sciences over the past few years.  What will happen to these funds?  What will happen to the collection we have been building?
  • We have been intending to weed the Computer Science collection for a couple of years now (how many books do you need on Fortran?  We have over 100.)  How will this impact our plans for this project?

And that is just the beginning.  Of course, this doesn’t even deal with the question about eliminated faculty and non-instructional positions that the President also mentioned in his address.  We have 4 librarians retiring in the next 8 months and I have no idea if we will be able to replace any of them.

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