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VSU MLIS Program potentially saved with new substitute bill

Georgia Sen. Larry Walker proposed a substitute to Senate Bill 390 to protect VSU’s Master of Library Science program.  

Walker first presented Senate Bill 390 to completely disaffiliate from the American Library Association (ALA) to the Georgia Senate Committee on Feb. 7. He showed concerns of what this could mean for VSU, which is the only university in Georgia with an MLIS program.   

The president of the ALA self-proclaimed herself as a Marxist. The term for president within this organization is only one year, so a new president will be elected in June.  

Many citizens and people in the legislature grew concerned that taxpayers should not be supporting this kind of ideology.   

Five states have already been disaffiliated from the ALA: Texas, Missouri, Alabama, Wyoming, and South Carolina.  

David Slykhuis, the dean of Dewar College of Education and Human Services, represented VSU at the Senate Committee to share concerns pertaining to the bill and the effects it would have on VSU’s $3.5 million MLIS program.  

“Until another accrediting body can be found or formed, I respectfully ask the bill sponsor and committee for consideration to be able to use privately donated funds to continue our accreditation,” said Slykhuis. “At least through our currently approved cycle of 2028.”    

Walker made changes to the previous bill to better protect the MLIS program.  

“I made the changes requested by the VSU administration,” said Walker, “which allows them to continue to receive accreditation of their MLIS degree program from ALA.”    

The bill is currently being reviewed.   

“This version of the bill passed out of our Government Oversight Committee yesterday afternoon (Feb. 20) and is now eligible to be voted on by the full Senate,” said Walker.   

The proposed bill stated that the director of a public library system must be qualified with a Librarian’s Professional Graduate Certificate.  

Librarians would no longer be required to be certified through the Board of Certification of Librarians but instead through the Georgia Council of Public Libraries.   

If the bill is passed the board would be dissolved July 1, 2025. The council would then take its place.   

The substitute bill states, “The council shall make such rules and regulations and take such action as may be reasonably necessary to implement this chapter.”    

The council can create grading criteria and takes all the responsibilities that the Board once had.   

The purpose of the bill is “to establish grades of certificates for librarians, to prescribe and hold examinations, to require submission of credentials to establish the qualifications of those seeking certificates as librarians, and to issue certificates of librarianship to qualified persons in accordance with such rules and regulations as it may prescribe.”    

The difference between the board and the council is that there will no longer be a requirement to be certified through the ALA.   

The council will require individuals to renew their accreditation if done through the ALA.   

According to Senate Bill 390 people will have to continue their education of “not less than ten hours biennially as a condition of certificate renewal.”  

VSU’s MLIS program obtains certification through the ALA organization. Instead, the Board of Regents will provide donated funds to support this program.   

“The Board of Regents shall not use any taxpayer or privately donated funds on any materials, services, or operations offered by the American Library Association or any of its affiliates, except that privately donated funds may be provided to such association for the sole purpose of supporting an application for accreditation or re-accreditation of a degree program.”  

Dr. Slykhuis said that he can make no further comment.  

“I have been asked to not make public comment beyond what was said in the senate hearing,” said Dr. Slykhuis.  

VSU library staff members say that they are unable to make any comment. 

 

Written by Jenna Arnold, News Editor. Photo by Jenna Arnold, News Editor.

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