State Librarian Shares Support for LBCC Librarians Targeted to Lose Their Jobs

Photo courtesy of the LBCC Library

In a March 27 letter to LBCC President Lisa Avery, the State Librarian Wendy Cornelisen shared her support for LBCC’s faculty librarians, who have been targeted to lose their jobs as the college looks to offset a $2.5 million budget deficit next school year. Cornelisen wrote:

I write on behalf of the State Library of Oregon to express disappointment in LBCC’s recent decision to eliminate three faculty librarian positions effective this June. As an institution dedicated to supporting local libraries in Oregon, we see the essential role that libraries and library professionals serve throughout the educational continuum. Every day, public libraries cultivate early learning, K-12 school libraries ground students in information research and evaluation skills, and academic libraries support information and media literacy that foster student and faculty success. Losing professionally trained librarians from any part of that continuum negatively impacts students’ ability to learn and grow.

Libraries, and the faculty librarians who make them possible, help spark the curiosity and creativity that are core to the mission of every academic institution. Information is essential to any field of study. The amount of readily available information is increasing exponentially. Practitioners must sift through that growing data firehose to determine what is useful, credible, and current. That task can be daunting for new students and seasoned experts alike.

Fortunately, faculty librarians are trained in finding, evaluating, collecting, and facilitating access to information. Librarians like those at LBCC share their expertise with students and faculty by providing instruction on information literacy and research skills, curating strong collections based on curricular needs, assisting with multi-disciplinary work by finding complimentary and supplementary information, promoting equity for underserved and under-resourced communities, and generally acting as knowledgeable navigators within an increasingly complex information landscape.

Professionally qualified librarians, together with support staff, are essential ingredients to effective and equitable educational institutions. The libraries of today are more than book warehouses. Rather, they are a set of services that ensure equitable access to information, support students and faculty, encourage information literacy, and instruct in skills necessary within today’s information-dependent environment.

Colleges lose a huge and vital portion of these services when they eliminate faculty librarians. LBCC librarians have consistently been leaders in all areas that make academic libraries great. From our vantage working with all types and sizes of libraries in Oregon, we have been impressed by the care and professionalism exhibited by your librarians, especially in fostering equity, diversity, and inclusion. Here is just a sampling of recent projects lead by LBCC faculty librarians:

*The library’s ethnic studies collection has been a critical resource for students and faculty in multiple areas of study including History, Anthropology, English, and Sociology.
*Instructors from a wide variety of disciplines are working to diversify the content, readings, and
research assignments in their courses, relying on the professional guidance of faculty librarians to
identify such materials.
*An LBCC faculty librarian consulted with key faculty (including Dr. Ramycia McGhee, whose
fellowship was focused on helping other faculty to incorporate Blackness into the curriculum) to
purchase resources and create guides related to major American ethnic groups.
*Librarians have created public-facing information in Spanish, including the website, library catalog, and Spanish-language materials. Recently hired Spanish-speaking staff were pivotal to the success of this project, especially new faculty librarians. This work has resulted in increased usage by Spanish speakers. The new Spanish interface for the library catalog also benefits the hundreds of libraries around the world that use the same software as LBCC.
*Faculty librarians were key to the success of the Linn Benton Community Literacy Project, a
partnership with the Adult Basic Skills department that connects adult learners with volunteer
literacy tutors.
*LBCC librarians assist faculty members in constructing open educational resources. OER are affordable and effective solutions that program-area faculty develop instead of asking students to pay for high-cost, mass-produced publisher content, saving LBCC students thousands of dollars
annually. These materials facilitate a more inclusive, culturally responsive, universally designed
curriculum that works towards a more equitable and socially just student learning experience.

Creating a socially just learning environment is fundamental to the mission of a community college. They are a key path to education for some of the most underserved and under-resourced communities in Oregon, and community colleges are an especially critical gateway for first-generation college students. Often, students from underserved groups need additional support to navigate higher education. The faculty librarians at LBCC have shown themselves not only to be excellent librarians, but also critical navigators for some of the most vulnerable students at LBCC.

We hope that you will reconsider your decision to cut these expert professionals who are so
important to student and faculty success.

Sincerely,

Wendy Cornelisen
State Librarian

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