Future of Library Education in Georgia
Hall Meeting – July 27, 2004
Avenue Research Library of the Atlanta Fulton County Public Library
- Dr. Ismail Abdullahi welcomed attendees and
announced speakers from the various participating organizations.
Then, Dr. Abdullahi gave a detailed chronology of events surrounding the
Clark Atlanta University’s (CAU) board of trustees decision to phase out the
School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS). This chronology includes
several attempts by library professionals to communicate with the CAU board of
On September 29, 2003, the CAU board of trustees refused to
meet with several deans of library schools from the southeastern United States.
The deans traveled to meet together in Atlanta specifically to meet with
the board and voice support for the CAU SLIS.
No one from the CAU board of trustees thought it fit to meet with them.
On July 15, 2004, American Library Association (ALA)
councillor Kathleen Bethel traveled from Chicago to personally deliver a letter
from ALA to the CAU board of trustees requesting a reconsideration of the SLIS
phase out. Ms. Bethel and Dr.
Abdullahi were unable to deliver the letter because the location of this board
meeting was not made available to them.
Locally, the Metro Atlanta Library Association (MALA)
wrote a letter to the CAU board of trustees urging them to reconsider the SLIS
phase out. MALA received no reply
acknowledgement of their letter.
- Dr. Wallace Koehler described efforts by the Valdosta State University
(VSU) Master of Library & Information Science Program (MLIS) to link with CAU’s SLIS for the common good of
Georgia library education and the particular benefit of each school’s library
school program. These efforts by
VSU to engage CAU in a collaborative effort brought no result. Dr. Koehler also described the process that VSU is following
in their ALA accreditation effort for their three year old library school
- Dr. George Gaumond expressed a concern that
quite a few librarians in Georgia will be retiring in the next several years.
A stable library school environment in Georgia is essential to continue
to backfill the vacancies. Dr.
Gaumond reminded the audience that the Georgia Library Association (GLA) can
provide some political leverage in support of library schools in Georgia.
- Dr. Rick Wright read a letter of support from
the Metro Atlanta Library Association (MALA) for a continued library school
presence in metro Atlanta. Dr.
Wright noted MALA’s support for CAU and its SLIS as well as VSU and its
library school program.
The MALA letter also suggested that VSU hold some classes in metro
Atlanta rather than Macon, GA. The
text of this letter is available at http://www.matllib.org/MALA-StatementJuly272004.htm
- Allison Evatt
noted the Special Library Association’s (SLA) policy of not making
statements of support. However, she
spoke for herself in expressing support for library school education in Georgia.
After these introductory statements of position, Dr.
Abdullahi gave a short review of library school education at CAU, noting Atlanta
University and the Hampton Institute as the schools from which CAU SLIS came.
The floor was then opened to participants from the audience.
Members of the CAU SLIS faculty in attendance included: acting Dean Dr. Anita O’Neal, Dr. Fazle Kabir, and
Dr. Ismail Abdullahi.
Members of the VSU MLIS faculty in attendance included: Director Dr. Wallace Koehler, Dr. George Gaumond and Dr. Elaine Yontz.
Dr. Fazle Kabir noted that CAU president Dr. Walter
Broadnax gave verbal assurances
that the CAU SLIS will be supported. Dr.
Kabir spoke of the questionable methods used to determine the revenue vs. cost
issue of the CAU SLIS. He indicated
that Dr. Broadnax would “revisit” the issue of the SLIS closure.
He urged alumni to organize – “make your voices heard”.
Responding to questioning, Dr. Koehler described how
VSU offered to collaborate with CAU including cross-listing courses, offering to
“teach out” any CAU student who doesn’t complete their MLS before the
phase out, and offers to consider CAU SLIS professors to teach VSU classes.
He noted that it is time to develop a formal proposal to “continue the
legacy” of CAU SLIS in a partnership with VSU, whereby the CAU SLIS valuable
history and resources would continue to benefit library education in Georgia.
Carolyn Garnes, ALA councillor, noted the resolution
(ALA CD #35) passed by ALA in support of the CAU SLIS
at the 2004 ALA Midwinter Meeting. Ms. Garnes also noted that a
subsequent three page letter was drafted and delivered via mail to the CAU board
of trustees. This is the letter
that Kathleen Bethel was not enabled to present in person on July 15th.
Several CAU SLIS students in attendance expressed
concern about the school’s continued ability to administer to their needs.
Currently, the CAU SLIS has only four persons serving as
contract for the school’s technology and library automation instructor
wasn’t renewed. The students
described their efforts to lobby the president on an informal basis.
Dr. Abdullahi noted that ALA’s intervention in favor
of CAU SLIS is the first time that ALA has taken this action.
He also noted that the $500,000 that the state of Georgia gives to to CAU
for the SLIS blurs the line between private education and public funding.
It was noted that this funding was reduced to $475,000 in the 2004
A CAU SLIS student asked about accreditation.
Dr. Koehler described in some detail where in that process the VSU
library school program is. VSU’s library school is currently in their third year of
pre-candidate status toward ALA accreditation.
Per the new ALA accreditation process, three years of pre-candidate
status is followed by two years of candidate status. Then, the ALA review team comes to the school for a site
visit and review, after which ALA decides on accreditation. Given this timetable, VSU’s
program is still over two years away from accreditation.
program is still over two years away from accreditation.
Koehler noted that a student who earns an MLS from VSU within one year of
VSU’s accreditation by ALA will have their degree considered fully ALA
accredited. Students who earn a VSU MLS degree more than one year before VSU ALA
accreditation will be eligible for a Georgia “Board of Regents Equivalency”
which satisfies only in-state requirements.
For this reason, many VSU library school students are delaying completion
of their MLS until they know that their VSU degree will be accepted as ALA
accredited outside of Georgia.
It was noted that CAU’s accreditation with ALA ends
It was noted that over 60 Georgia SLIS students now earn
their degree through the benefit of a “common market” among library schools
in the southeastern United States.
This arrangement entitles residents of the state of Georgia
to pay in-state tuition for SLIS courses at any school within this common
Jane Robbins, dean of the Florida State University library
school, reminded the audience that efforts to strengthen both CAU and VSU might
result in delay or loss of accreditation for both. She urged that Georgians consider focusing on one program or
the other, not both.
Lamar Veatch, state of Georgia librarian, offered to
voice concerns to the Georgia Board of Regents.
Elaine Hughes, Georgia State University librarian and
Atlanta University MLS graduate expressed disappointment that the CAU SLIS phase
out was assumed. She urged CAU
alumni to organize and not give up the fight.
There was discussion of rallying support and establishing some strategies
in the effort to save the CAU SLIS. In
addition to primary stakeholders and the library community, the press and the
Georgia legislature were mentioned at targets for a “save CAU SLIS”
The relationship between the Black Caucus of the
Georgia state legislature and the $475,000 in state funding to CAU for its SLIS
Dr. Abdullahi suggested that a motion be made to give the CAU
board of trustees until October 2004 before holding further town meetings or
other creative actions. It was the
general sense by all the speakers that Georgia library professionals need to
make some contingency plans given the likelihood that CAU will phase out the
SLIS. Before a vote was taken,
security personnel from the Auburn library advised participants that the library
was closing for the day. The
meeting then adjourned.
- - - - - - -
Dr. Ismail Abdullahi is a professor with the CAU SLIS.
He is also an ALA councilor, and a member of MALA and SLA.
Dr. George Gaumond is the Valdosta State University
librarian. He is also the president
Dr. Wallace Koehler is the Valdosta State University
associate director and associate professor with the Masters in Library and
Information Science program.
Dr. Rick Wright is an Atlanta Fulton County Public Library instruction librarian. He is also the president of MALA.
Notes compiled by Tim Wojcik in collaboration with several attendees.
Clark Atlanta University's School of Library and Information Studies
Valdosta State University's Master of Library and Information Science Program
American Library Association - Accreditation Status: Categories of Accreditation
Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Academic Common Market