In answer to one of our Public Insight Network queries on the state of public libraries, librarian Cynthia Jorstad of Northland Community & Technical College has written in.
Her department suffered a 12 percent cut this year, she writes, and now she must work as the librarian on two of Northland’s campuses, which are located 50 miles apart.
Of course the staff is stressed, she says, but budget issues are also cutting into the goal that Chancellor Steven Rosenstone has just trumpeted:
“I’ve … had to discontinue my outreach to area high schools who participate in the College in the High School program. It’s ironic that Chancellor Rosenstone just said in his inaugural speech today that he wants MnSCU to develop partnerships with high schools so students will be more college ready. That’s exactly what I was trying to do.
Some administrators (local and state) feel that with so many online (proprietary) resources available to our students, that library staff is less essential. Many faculty will agree with the statement ‘computer literate doesn’t translate into research literate’… our students can post a photo album to Facebook in a few moments, but they are lost when asked to find three appropriate sources for a paper. Librarians are needed more than ever to teach students how to navigate resources, identify appropriate content and use it appropriately to meet their needs.”
And what will students do without such training after college?
“Lack of these skills will be a hardship for them in the work place and be a hurdle for them to become an adequately informed/engaged citizen.
Much of the course specific instruction I used to have time for has now fallen to the faculty. Many of them are perfectly capable of delivering this information, but both they and I concur that the library instruction is more effective when it’s delivered by the librarian.”
By the way, I believe she was referring to this snippet from p. 5 of Rosenstone’s speech:
“Effective collaboration also means, among other things, partnering with K-12 to strengthen the pipeline to ensure that students from all walks of life – young and old, rich and poor, black and white, immigrants and fourth generation Minnesotans – are college ready.”