Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont School Library Association's executive board has issued the following statement on the impending closure of Vermont State University Libraries. It was submitted by VSLA President Charles Dabritz
Executive Board Statement on Vermont State University Libraries
We are collectively appalled by the decision by the leadership of the Vermont State College system to eliminate their print collections, repurpose their physical spaces, and lay off librarians. We are calling on the leadership of Vermont State University (VTSU) to reverse this decision. We believe that all Vermont students should have access to robust and well-funded library programs that include access to professional librarians who work in partnership with faculty and in support of students. Ample research, both quantitative and qualitative, shows that students at all levels thrive with the help of these library programs.
The role of academic librarians, like their K-12 counterparts, has transformed from curating and checking out print resources, to also becoming digital learning specialists and leaders. Our university librarians help students learn to ask the right questions as they grapple with new intellectual concepts. They prepare students for the workplace by teaching them how to research and keep current in their field. They instruct students on how to find, evaluate and use information outside of the education system’s digital resources. They also play a crucial role in helping students navigate the legal and ethical issues around content publishing. Who will support our VTSU students in these roles, over 50% of whom are first-generation college students?
The VTSU libraries are not only a resource for students and faculty but also valuable assets for the surrounding communities. The closure of VTSU libraries will have far-reaching consequences on the Vermont communities they serve, resulting in a loss of valuable resources, a decrease in educational opportunities, and a reduction in community events.
Moving to an all-digital library is an issue of equity and access for Vermont students. 24/7 access is only available in places that have reliable broadband connectivity. This move will have a disproportionate impact on students living in rural communities, the very same communities where our VTSU campuses are located. Students who can’t afford high-priced texts and rely upon the college library will no longer have access to materials they need. Additionally, the removal of access to librarians who support learners of all cognitive and physical abilities will impact college students who need them most.
What’s a university without a library and the librarians who know the students, the professors, the curriculum, and what’s going on in their communities? The physical elimination of all Vermont State University libraries, the indiscriminate removal of print resources, and the layoffs of academic librarians is a loss for all Vermonters. The ripple effects will have unforeseeable and irreconcilable consequences for generations to come.
1. Vermont Consortium of Academic Libraries, Vermont School Library Association,
Vermont Library Association. (October 3, 2016). Vermont Librarians' Statement on
Information Literacy Across the Lifespan.
2. Vermont State College System Office of Institutional Research. (February 2020).
Vermont State College System: Sourcebook of Institutional Data.
Vermont School Library Association. 2.17.2023