Features

University libraries face staff cuts

By
Staff Writer
Thursday, April 8, 2010

While many students feel like they’ve spent their entire undergraduate careers in a library, for Brown librarians such as Gayle Lynch, a senior library specialist at the John Hay Library, the libraries have been home for half their lives.

Lynch has spent the past 43 years working at the Hay, archiving documents pertaining to Brown’s history.

Throughout the years, Lynch has enjoyed her work at the Hay, she said, calling Brown’s library system “one of the best departments on campus to work for.” Her day-to-day archival work includes sifting through past student and faculty publications, as well as working with University alumni to preserve Brown’s past.

While Lynch will continue to be a familiar face at the Hay, by the end of June, some of her long-time colleagues will no longer be part of the library system.

In the wake of the University’s budget crunch, some library staff will lose their jobs as part of the 60 planned layoffs, estimated to cut $14 million from the budget by 2011, according to an e-mail to The Herald from University Librarian Harriette Hemmasi. 

While some library staff members have been laid off, some long-time employees have taken advantage of Brown’s “early retirement option.” Even with this option, some long-time employees like Lynch decided to keep their positions.

This early retirement plan was offered to Brown employees who had worked at least 10 years continuously at the University and who were turning 60 by the date the plan was offered, said Beth Coogan, a senior library associate specialist at the Rockefeller Library.

“What they offered was anyone who was turning 60 by a certain date would be offered a year’s salary and $15,000,” Coogan said, adding that the plan would cover medical insurance for a certain length of time after the employee retired.

Though Coogan declined the early retirement plan, she said about 20 employees in the library system had taken the offer.

Among the library employees that did accept the offer was Stephen L.Thompson ’71, scholarly resources librarian at the Rockefeller Library. Thompson, who is the library’s liaison for the English and comparative literature departments, has been a full-time Brown employee since 1972. Though he has been a member of the Brown community for the past four decades, Thompson said he thought the early retirement plan “seemed like a good offer at a good time.”

Janet Crager, a scholarly resources librarian, also took advantage of the early retirement option. Crager, who has been with the University for nearly 30 years, has a positive outlook on her decision.

“I was thinking about retiring in a couple years anyway, and I have two small grandchildren,” Crager said.

Crager said she hopes to spend her time with her family after leaving Brown and looks forward to new people and new ideas in her field.a

“It’s better for someone younger to come in with more up-to-date ideas and training,” she said.

At the same time, Crager said, leaving Brown is a hard decision for someone who has called it home for so long.

“I feel privileged to be a part of all that — I’m really going to miss it.”