Montreal Gazette

More rumours of library closings at Mcgill

Students and faculty rally to save facility

- KAREN SEIDMAN GAZETTE UNIVERSITI­ES REPORTER kseidman@montrealga­ Twitter: @KSeidman

Students and faculty in education at McGill University have found themselves in the awkward position of rallying to save a beloved library that the university hasn’t yet confirmed is closing.

Apparently, library staff were sworn to secrecy in what faculty is describing as a “cloak and dagger” operation, but have let it leak that the Education Library is slated to close and merge with the McLennan Humanities and Social Science Library down the hill on McTavish St.

But pleas from faculty and students for a response have not been granted, nor did McGill reply to requests for informatio­n from The Gazette on Tuesday.

However, late in the day, the president of the Post Graduate Students’ Society shared a response he got from Diane Koen, associate director of planning and resources, saying the library is faced with truly significan­t budget cuts, and difficult space and staffing decisions must be made.

She also said the library has just begun the consultati­on process and will meet with stakeholde­rs.

This mirrors what happened with the Life Sciences Library in the medicine faculty. McGill announced it would not close the library without consultati­on only after library staff provoked an uproar by revealing last week that the library was almost certainly closing. Now, as McGill grapples with budget cuts of $19 million, the Education Library seems to be in the same position.

However, a Facebook page called Save McGill Education Library from Closure, calls on the administra­tion to “abandon irresponsi­ble austerity measures.”

“This is not the place to make the cuts,” said Lise Winer, a professor in the faculty. “The library is the heart of the building, and the faculty and students are always there. We’ve had all kinds of cutbacks and the library hours were just chopped, but to do something like this without consulting stakeholde­rs is unacceptab­le.”

Faculty has become used to “an administra­tion that performs a show of consultati­on before doing precisely what it planned to do anyway, but we seem to have moved into an era in which even sham consultati­on is considered unnecessar­y,” said Anthony Paré, a professor in the department.

The faculty council adopted two resolution­s on Tuesday, one demanding a meeting or town hall with the dean and one deploring the way the situation has been handled. That was before anyone knew a consultati­on is apparently planned.

“There’s definitely a proposal to close the library on the table and it seems a decision has been made,” said Bronwen Low, an associate professor in the faculty.

To add to the frustratio­n, graduate students had been collecting money ($10 per year per student) and recently gave about $100,000 to the library for improvemen­ts.

“For graduate students, the library is an essential service,” said Jonathan Mooney, president of the PGSS.

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