Johnson, VT– More than 100 students gathered Wednesday to protest plans to move the libraries at three campuses of Vermont State University to a fully digital platform.
Vermont State University President Parwinder Grewal announced the changes last week. In a meeting with students Tuesday, Grewal said only about 4% of materials are checked out of the campus libraries. Northern Vermont University, Castleton University and Vermont Technical College will merge to form VTSU later this year.
“There are some students who only come online, and we also need to serve them in addition to the students who are on campus,” says Grewal. “So that way we could reduce the work or expense that we put into just keeping that material,” he adds.
At Wednesday’s rally at Northern Vermont University-Johnson, students chanted “Listen to our voices,” and “Our students deserve books.” Hattie Ebling, a junior at NVU, said “we are not getting the answers we need, and we definitely need those answers to move forward.”
Jo Cutler, a sophomore at NVU Johnson, says, “I feel like they’re just trying to destroy this campus that is amazing and beautiful and we all love being here.”
Students say that a survey was previously sent out, asking for opinions on the then-proposed changes. But only 500 students responded, which students say is too little representation.
“They’re taking away a lot of important resources,” Cutler said. “The library is a very amazing space, there’s amazing books. There’s also about 15 student workers there, and without the library, they’re all not going to have jobs.”
A student who spoke in the meeting notes, “I’m a student worker at the library and I see books being checked out and returned every single day. Students do use those resources; they use the materials. Why can’t we integrate an online library with our in-person library?”
The president says the school will help students get physical materials if requested, to accommodate for accessibility. “We are trying to provide access that is affordable to higher education to a diversity of learners,” says Nolan Atkins, the Provost of Academic Affairs. “To do that we have to redesign every functional area of our institution,” he says.