Library hours expanded


For many universities and grade schools alike, the library is the heart of the campus; this is where students gather to study, read, meet friends, and explore resources that would otherwise be unavailable to them. NVU-Johnson is no exception.

Throughout the three floors of Willey Library are tables and study nooks surrounded by massive windows, welcoming plants, and thousands of books. When one enters the library’s first floor, there is always a smiling face greeting them from the front desk.

This past summer, however, the resource librarian for Willey Library quit, leaving the position vacant and resulting in trimmed operating hours. Specifically, until last week, the library hours were curtailed to 8 – 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays with no hours on the weekend.

“There were a few concerns I had after they announced the merger last year,” says Samantha Estepp, one of the student employees in the library. “Upon arriving at school this year, I learned that our resource librarian had quit over the summer, and the operating library hours for this semester were to be from 8-4pm every weekday. This made my heart sink.”

Many students rely on the dependability of their school’s library to be a place where they can access internet, books, and other resources in a safe environment. The Willey Library hosts students studying for exams, researching for projects, and doing personal reading, and all of these are important to the student body.

“I do not know another school that would allow us to go without a librarian,” says Estepp. “Most schools have multiple librarians, and we do not have one solid reference librarian. Alice and Jeff have kept this library alive, and they are not librarians. They are in charge of book circulation and interlibrary loaning.”

Alice Godin and Jeff Angione have arguably kept the library up and running, providing a level of supervision and continuity to a seriously understaffed operation.

“We have been reduced from a full-time staff of seven to a staff of two,” says Godin, the resource sharing coordinator at Willey Library. “The two staff members we have are doing circulation, weeding, information technology, reference, interlibrary loan, serials, technical processing with cataloging assistance from the Lyndon branch, and repairs.”

With the merging of the Vermont State Colleges, faculty and staff have had to take on additional responsibilities where there are gaps in staffing. However, some positions simply need to be filled in order to ensure a smooth operation.

“The position of Librarian II has been posted,” says Godin. “Applications are being accepted. Interviews are in process. The library staff have asked for a part-time evening circulation supervisor but were refused.”

Some students have taken matters into their own hands, posting petitions in stairwells and on bulletin boards around campus. The petition asks for students who wish for extended library hours to sign in hopes of getting the attention of the administration.

This appears to have had some impact.

“There was no urgency, has been no urgency, to hire anyone to fill that position,” says Estepp. “Not until those petitions showed up around campus. Even days after the petitions were hung up, there was still no real push until the school started to receive angry calls from the parents. This has been frustrating because it reinforces the feeling that our voices as students do not matter. At one point, this school had library hours until 11 p.m. Also, the extension for the library hours to me doesn’t feel like a win. It feels like we still are not taken seriously.”

As of Wednesday, Oct. 12, the library will now be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, remain open 8a.m. to 4p.m. on Fridays, and also will be open noon until 5p.m. on Sundays.

“I think that this is a time of transition,” says Godin. “We transformed from Johnson State College to Northern Vermont University, and it was a bumpy journey. Much patience has been required from students, faculty and staff.”

Student employees have stepped in to assist the library in extending its operating hours. This, combined with the extra effort from the remaining library staff, has allowed the library to function, albeit not optimally, until a new research librarian is hired.

“Now we’re being asked to transform again into Vermont State University at Johnson,” continues Godin. “Again, it may be a bumpy transition, especially for students, but also for faculty and staff. Much is unknown at this time. My hope is that more librarians and staff will be hired, and more students will enroll in the university with more opportunities and options for classes. This will ultimately translate into a vibrant and meaningful higher education experience. I believe that, if we persevere and support each other through these tough times, the university and the library will survive and improve,” says Godin.

In a positive sign, last Friday, Oct. 14, the administration removed the interim designation from the research librarian job posting, which should increase the likelihood of a successful search, according to Professor of Writing and Literature  Tyrone Shaw, a member of that search committee.

“The change is significant,” said Shaw.  “Perhaps we will see more much-needed investment in the new university’s libraries after all.  Faculty feel strongly that this is crucial for a credible academic institution.”