Senate, House bills would keep state college libraries open, books on shelves

Sen. Brian Collamore is the lead sponsor of a bill to keep the books on the shelves in Vermont State College libraries (above, VT Technical College library).

By Guy Page

A Vermont Senate bill with tri-partisan support would prohibit the State of Vermont from closing or reducing in scope the services provided by state college libraries. And it would specifically prohibit converting libraries to an all-digital format. 

The bill is part of the continued backlash against the proposed cost-saving plan by the Vermont State College Trustees to move college libraries to an all-digital, or at least more-digitial, format. Not unlike the pushback against S.5, the Affordable Heating Act, opposition has been broadbased and vocal. The trustees have since released a plan that would keep at least some of the books in the libraries. 

Lead sponsor Brian Collamore (R-Rutland) said the bill is in draft form now but will be introduced soon. Castleton University, one of the state colleges, is located in his district.

A total of 15 senators – half of the Senate – have said they will sign on as sponsors. The composition of senators includes at least two members of the Senate Education Committee, and members of the Democratic, Republican and Progressive caucuses. 

The bill would “prohibit the Vermont State Colleges from closing or reducing in size or scope the operation of the physical libraries on any of their campuses without legislative approval.

It would also prohibit the Vermont State Colleges from reducing the number of positions, employees, or employee hours assigned to the operation or support of their libraries below the numbers in effect on January 1, 2023 without legislative approval.”

Collamore said he is realistic that the bill will not be passed out of Senate Education before the Crossover deadline later today, Friday March 17. However, he said he hopes the bill will “poke” the Scott administration and the college trustees to recognize the benefit of having books in college libraries. Also, it’s possible the bill could be included in an education spending bill later in the session. 

The Vermont State College system faces a severe funding deficit. But library supporters want the cuts, if any, to be found elsewhere. 

As Senate Education this week sponsored a bill to spend $350,000 of Tourism and Marketing money to promote state colleges and hopefully attract young people to Vermont, critics of the library cuts say it sends the opposite message to prospective college students. Also, a possible conflict of interest has been alleged – the vice-chair of the Vermont State College trustee board is a senior executive in charge of educational technological transition with the multi-national consulting firm Deloitte. 

A companion bill to Collamore’s will be introduced in the House of Representatives next week by Rep. Jarrod Sammis (R-Castleton).

“There’s such overwhelming support for the bill that we believe there should be a floor vote in the entire Senate,” VSEA lobbyist Vince Illuzzi said.

Categories: Education

7 replies »

  1. Why do libraries matter? After all, the majority of Vermont high school graduates can’t read.

  2. Another knee jerk reaction against change. Better to keep a bunch of unused books on the shelves than use 21st century technology.

    • The VSC libraries all offer digital resources and have for decades. The unused books you mention might well have been weeded if the various library staffs hadn’t been cut to the quick. Talk to one of the staff members for a full picture.

  3. I would strongly encourage any legislator that supports this to actually POP IN and visit a library or 2. And look at some of the books. Particularly the non-fiction sections. Many books have far outdated information, (ie medical information) making those shelves full of books just space holders. Additionally, while libraries are nice, the building I have seen (Lyndon) is rarely used. So, go. DO a pop in visit and SEE how many students are in the library spaces at a given time. I have often seen less than a handful. The administration I believe has stated they can save something like 500k by making the changes….why wouldn’t you want to do that? There was a threat of closing these places just 3 years ago. Times change and the places that are supported with our tax dollars need to change with it.

    • You have a point. However, in some instances, standards have so deteriorated that older books are more accurate and/or informative. E.g.: the thesauri of the last couple of decades are nothing but very abridged dictionaries.

    • I’m thinking that some of the children in VT either don’t still have access to tech devices or they are shared by family members thereby not necessarily providing usage when needed. Also, with Vermont’s spotty internet/cell coverage – some kids may not have availability to the net as many others do. Or, legislators really like Ben Franklin. Which is doubtful, since he was one of the Founding Fathers of this nation which they loathe so much.

  4. Examples of why a library is not just a place to hold old books but they are immune to the whims of the left or right in censorship and the reeducation of what the “woke” call things today.
    This is by no means a complete list but let’s start with the KJV of the Bible. They call it the King James version for a reason. Just as a simple example my copy of the Bible ( a Geneva Bible written before the KJV) says that Adam and Eve put on Breaches (pants), after they discovered they were naked. King James would have none of the thought of a Woman wearing pants, so it was changed to fig leaves. So it’s not GOD’s word it’s the kings. I guess all the killing and rape and murder was okay.
    History books have been altered , but mostly literature that has historical significant stories are like:

    Just to name a few. This is only on new printings BUT as the information states. They are editing DIGITAL COPIES that people have on their Kindle and other e-readers after sales. God Bless them for protecting us. NOT!