The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) posted a release on Friday critical of St. Lawrence College’s decision to lose its last librarian.
Currently, the college’s libraries at its Kingston, Cornwall, and Brockville campus are staffed with five library technicians and one college librarian.
However, as of January 12, 2018, the college librarian position is being eliminated and replaced with a new management position, Associate Director of Libraries and Student Success. As OPSEU describes it, only 20 percent of that position’s job description supports the college’s libraries and staff and it is not clear the new position will be available to do any of the teaching performed by the librarian in the past.
“Where once we had two librarians – back in the 1990s – we will soon have none,” said Grant Currie, president of OPSEU Local 417, representing faculty at St. Lawrence. “Yet the information needs of students are only growing more complex, particularly those in degree and advanced programs. Who will support these students after the college librarian position is eliminated?”
The OPSEU release outlined librarian Jill Baker’s contributions to the college, where she has worked for 13 years at its Kingston campus following a 7 year librarian position at Queen’s University:
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She works one-on-one with students, often in degree programs, helping them find and evaluate non-traditional sources of information. She also helps the library technicians answer students’ more complex reference questions. She ensures information resources get into the hands of off-campus students, many of whom are on work placements.
She works with other faculty to select and provide the information their courses require. Finally, at the invitation of faculty, Baker goes into college classrooms to teach sessions tailored to course requirements, such as how to find and use peer-reviewed research.
St. Lawrence College announced this past April that it would be receiving $1.7 million provincial grant to upgrade its three campus libraries with new furniture and equipment.
“It’s great that St. Lawrence students will get improved libraries, but it makes no sense that the college is robbing them of the expert guidance they need in order to get the most out of them,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, in the release. “When it comes to information, navigation is the new literacy, and we’ve just lost our last navigator.”
UPDATE: A petition to be delivered to St. Lawrence College has been started at Change.Org