Open the McMaster Libraries

Open the McMaster Libraries

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Ambrose Thomson started this petition to Vivian Lewis, McMaster Librarian and

The McMaster University libraries need to be open for use in line with other similar organizations in the city.

Academic research has been adversely impacted by the ongoing and unnecessary closure of the McMaster libraries and the "electronic first" policy for resource access. This is not a matter of preference. For a number of reasons, having access to physical print materials is necessary to the process of research and writing.

Some of these reasons are:

  1. Skimming and locating needed content is far faster with a physical book than a digital edition, as is finding and using bookmarked content later on.
  2. In many cases eBook versions do not have print page numbers. eBook citations are not appropriate to advanced research works such as theses and dissertations. Hours can be lost trying to source the printed citation information for content that has been accessed digitally.
  3. Many books must be read in their entirety, causing serious physical strain on both the body and eyes as a person sits at a table or desk reading off a computer.
  4. There is also the issue of the medium being the message, which actually alters the character of research and the results produced when digital editions are used instead of print versions.

In short, the library closure and "electronic first" policy are prohibitive to the work that students need to accomplish. As such, these policies have jeopardized the degree completion timelines of countless students at McMaster University, especially those in graduate level degree programs.

In addition, these restrictions are unnecessary under the public health measures in our province and city. Moreover, they are inconsistent with the policies and practices of similar organizations and institutions in Hamilton. For instance, in every zone of the province's reopening framework (including lockdown), as well as during the recent stay-at-home order, the Hamilton Public Library (HPL) has been able to make physical books available to library users, even when digital editions are also available. At present, they are even allowing patrons to browse the stacks in person and check out books. There is no binding directive from public health or the Ontario government that can explain the Mills Library policies and the degree to which they are more restrictive than other similar establishments.

In view of the above, we, the undersigned, request that these policies be reviewed and that the restrictions be loosened to comply with government directives only. Specifically, library users should be able to:

  1. Access print editions held by Mills Library irrespective of electronic options.
  2. Browse the stacks and check out titles while complying with public health orders such as building capacity limits, health screening, masks, social distancing, and hand washing.

These requested changes to the current policies are legal, safe, and easily justified. They also meet a real and serious need of McMaster University Students, especially those in graduate programs engaged in advanced research and coming in danger of not completing their degree programs on time.

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At 100 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!