Media Relations Manager
For Immediate Release
September 10, 2004
ALA President Carol Brey-Casiano urges Clark Atlanta University
to keep School of Library and Information Studies open
CHICAGO - The following statement has been issued by American Library Association (ALA) President Carol Brey-Casiano on the closing of Clark Atlanta University's School of Library and Information Studies.
"Clark Atlanta University (CAU) decided in October 2003 to close its School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS) at the end of the 2004-2005 academic year. The CAU Board of Trustees says it must cut this and other programs if the university is to survive a $7.5 million deficit. The ALA has voiced its concern to the chair of the CAU trustees and has pointed out that the CAU SLIS program receives a larger proportion of funding from non-university sources than most SLIS programs of its size.
"The CAU SLIS program has a long and illustrious history. The school opened with 25 students in 1941; its primary intent was to prepare African American librarians, but it has always encouraged and enrolled students from all nations and all ethnic backgrounds. Its first dean was Eliza Atkins Gleason, the first African American to earn a PhD in Library
"About 100 students were enrolled in the CAU SLIS last year, a 29 percent increase over the previous year.
"The CAU SLIS program is the only one in Georgia that is accredited by the ALA and is one of only two such programs in historically black universities. To drop this program for financial reasons seems to make little budgetary sense, and it would be a false economy in other, more important ways as well.
"The ALA, like Clark Atlanta, believes in the rich heritage that historically black universities bring to our country. The ALA is also committed to promoting diversity in the library profession and the free and informed flow of information to all segments of our society. The Association believes that it is essential that children and families have the benefit of working with African-American librarians, and the continuation of the Clark Atlanta SLIS would further that reality. African-American librarians graduating from this program also serve as role models both for those who are in their formative years and for colleagues in the profession.
"The trustees also seem overly concerned about the conditional accreditation the SLIS received in the last review, as carrying out the recommendations and requirements of the accreditation process should not represent an undue budgetary burden.
"CAU President Walter Broadnax told the Associated Press last year 'what's on the table is saving this university.' What is also on the table is maintaining the Clark Atlanta SLIS mission, which is 'to continue its more than fifty year history of educating library and information professionals who are culturally diverse and able to serve successfully in libraries and information centers throughout the world.'
"The Clark Atlanta University School of Library and Information Studies has contributed significantly to the development and improvement of African American school libraries in the South and to the enrichment and diversity of our national culture. The ALA feels that closure of this program would have a negative impact on future services to an increasingly diverse society. The Association strongly urges the Clark Atlanta trustees to keep the university's SLIS open so that it can continue to serve our profession, our communities, and the world."