Letter: English, Writing Faculty Spell Out Impact of LBCC Library Cuts
We wanted to share our concerns about recent cuts to the library.
Folks outside the English Department may be unfamiliar with the term “information literacy” although you certainly know the concept. Information literacy is the ability to find information, tell when information is trustworthy, and assess what information one needs to understand a topic. Having good information literacy skills also means being an ethical consumer and producer of information.
In this era of search engine algorithms, biased or fabricated news, where anyone can create a website and disseminate information, information literacy is a vital skill. Today, an intelligent use of information is even more important than it was just six months ago. The release of ChatGPT (an AI program that can research and write for anyone willing to pay the small monthly subscription fee) is about to revolutionize the information landscape. We are on the verge of a change as massive as the birth of the internet.
The profession that will guide us into this new era is library science.
Librarians do unique work not covered by other faculty.
- Librarians curate library resources.
- Librarians teach IL classes and help design assignments.
- Librarians work one-on-one with students.
- Librarians teach students and faculty how to find and evaluate information.
- Librarians understand the rapidly changing world of information dissemination and prepare students and faculty to respond effectively.
Of course, faculty can find resources in the library and show a student how to enter search terms, but we are not experts in the ever-changing landscape of information. We trust the librarians to teach us.
Even if we were as well-versed in these fields as the librarians are – which we’re not – faculty members do not have time in a ten-week term to study the developments in information dissemination and information literacy. Information literacy education is its own subject and librarians are the instructors who teach this subject.
Messaging about the library cuts suggest that the library will continue to function at a lower capacity. Certainly, there will be things like laptop checkout but these are not the function of the library. The function of the library is education and that will not happen without librarians. Without information literacy skills, our students will flounder. Comments made by administration to the press, faculty, and students demonstrate a lack of understanding of how the librarians work with our students:
- The vast majority of LBCC students take one or more writing courses to complete their AS, AAOT, AGS, ASS, and some certificate programs, and writing faculty depend on librarians to help teach information literacy.
- Information literacy skills are vital to student success, meaning without librarians LBCC students will be unprepared to succeed in any class that requires research. This will threaten completion rates.
- Without librarians our students will be less prepared than those students taking the same classes at other colleges or universities. LBCC will become the “less good” option.
However, dual-enrolled students may receive excellent librarian support at partner institutions. This will create a two-tiered learning environment at LBCC that leaves behind and marginalizes LBCC students.
Equally important, a fully functioning library is an essential part of the college’s accreditation and viability as a transfer institution:
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities Standard 2.H.1 spells out the accreditation requirements for Library and Information Resources specifying that the institution “employs qualified personnel and provides access to library and information resources with a level of currency, depth, and breadth sufficient to support and sustain the institution’s mission, programs, and services.”
- According to Outcomes and Criteria for Transferable General Education Courses in Oregon (from the Joint Boards Articulation Commission of the Oregon University System) an information literacy outcome should be added to a social science, science, computer science, or writing course, and it is required as part of an AAOT (or AST, AS, etc.). Without a functioning library, programs that are tasked with providing information literacy education cannot fulfill this required charge.
- The Outcomes and Criteria for Transferable General Education Courses in Oregon further mandates that “a writing course infused with information literacy should include …instruction and practice in finding information efficiently and effectively, using appropriate research tools and search strategies” and the “instruction and practice in the ethical and legal use of information and information technologies.” Without properly updated library systems and without maintenance of physical and electronic resources — work that is done by librarians — classes charged with teaching information literacy cannot meet these mandated criteria.
The lack of a fully staffed library threatens the viability and integrity of this college and its value to promote lifelong pursuit of knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Therefore the English Department would like to see the administration restore at least some full-time library faculty now and make it a priority to rebuild the library as funding becomes available.
Note: This letter was addressed to LBCC President Lisa Avery, Vice President Ann Buchele, and LBCC’s Board of Education.