November 17, 2017

LIS School at LSU Threatened with Closure

By Lynn Blumenstein

Dean vows to fight decision; only library school in Louisiana

  • Commitment to statewide outreach
  • Save LSU’s SLIS Program group formed
  • Also, UIUC GSLIS may face consolidation

Louisiana State University (LSU), Baton Rouge, aims to eliminate several academic programs, including the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS), because of current and future budget constraints.

The proposed cuts would save LSU about $3 million annually, according to the Advocate. Any program eliminations would require approval by the LSU Board of Supervisors and the Louisiana Board of Regents.

Dean speaks out
"The Chancellor’s plan is to phase out the MLIS program, giving current students and those who have already been admitted an opportunity to complete the degree over the next two years or so," wrote SLIS dean Beth Paskoff to students and alumni.

Her message was circulated on the American Library Association (ALA) Council discussion list, prompting much concern from ALA members around the country.

Alumni, students, and friends of the school have joined the Save LSU’s SLIS Program group, via Facebook’s Causes application.

State outreach
LSU’s SLIS program is the only one in the state and the school has made efforts to reach students beyond the Baton Rouge campus. "We bring LSU to them so they can continue to work and live and serve in their home communities," wrote Paskoff.

For the past 15 years, distance education classes have been offered in several other locations, including Shreveport, Monroe, Lake Charles, Houma, Lafayette, New Orleans, and Alexandria.

"Our graduates are in demand across the state and the nation," continued Paskoff, who noted that 57 percent of the state residents don’t have Internet access in their homes, but "every parish has a library where citizens have free access to computers to complete social service forms or find essential health information or where their children can do homework."

"We will fight this decision and appreciate all your help and support in doing so," concluded Paskoff. LSU graduates 70 SLIS students annually.

UIUC program also under review
In related news, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS)  is among several "independent schools and colleges with fewer than 40 faculty members" to be reviewed.

In a message from the Office of the Chancellor, an academic unit review team was charged to "explore structural and organizational changes, including possible consolidations, to realize budgetary savings." Associate Professor Lori Kendall represents the GSLIS.

The GSLIS is consistently top-rated among library schools in the U.S. News & World Report‘s Graduate School Survey.

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LIS School at LSU Threatened with Closure


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