Yale-NUS Library and Fab Lab to be placed under NUS Libraries’ Administration: Roberts

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Story | Suman (they/she), Managing Editor; Avery Huang (she/her), Editor in Chief

Illustration/photo | Joshua Vargas (he/him)

The Yale-NUS Library, which currently maintains priority access for residents on the Yale-NUS campus, and the Fab Lab, as part of a greater Educational Resources and Technology (ERT) move, will be transitioning under NUS Libraries’ direct administration soon, Yale-NUS President Joanne Roberts, revealed in a September 12 interview with The Octant.

Currently, the Yale-NUS Library remains under the administration of Yale-NUS, although it is available for day-time use to all NUS students. However, as the road to the closure for Yale-NUS becomes shorter, parts of Yale-NUS’ physical space, including the library, will be slowly turned over to NUS and/or NUS College (NUSC)’s direct administration; although Yale-NUS students will maintain priority in the access to such facilities.

Unlike the Library, the Fab Lab only remains currently for use by NUSC and Yale-NUS students. As per the transition agreement, Yale-NUS students will maintain priority in facilities use, followed by NUSC students. Access for students not registered in either institution is under discussion.

Rather than waiting until June 2025 to move all staff to NUS, which Roberts claimed would be “extremely difficult to do while providing smooth and well-supported career transitions for all of our staff and faculty”, she hopes a progressive approach would “better provide Yale-NUS students with the service that was promised to them” and allow staff and faculty ample time to plan their career futures.

‘The plan is to move progressively, and only move areas where service remains guaranteed’

On August 31st, through the Telegram Kingfisher Chirps Channel, Yale-NUS Student Government (StuGov) had addressed questions regarding ‘UTown Library’ referring to the Yale-NUS Library which would be opening up fully to UTown residents. In it, they had clarified with Dave Stanfield, Vice President (Campus Life) that Yale-NUS would continue to maintain priority access to the library and its facilities until 2025. Roberts echoed Stanfield’s words, and reiterated that, “a service-level agreement would be locked in” where Yale-NUS would maintain priority as it has until now, i.e. exclusive access from 6pm to 10pm, priority for library space booking.

As the college’s inevitable end comes closer, cession of Yale-NUS physical space also becomes inevitable. In response to the lack of notice about the Global Learning Rooms (GLRs) and Classrooms 7 and 9 being NUSC-only spaces, Roberts apologized that “it felt like a surprise”, but maintained that, “progressively, space that isn’t needed will be released…in future we will attempt to consult with students on this release”. 

In the conversation with Roberts, she clarified that they are just “starting to have the conversation” with NUS LIbraries and are “setting up the time to begin [discussing] with student associates.” She explained that “Yale-NUS’ staff [would report] to NUS Libraries and we have a service level agreement that ensure we maintain services, including reserves, hours and priority bookings,” and the transition would be like that of the Writer’s Centre, which, as of AY 2022-2023, has fully transitioned under NUS Libraries.

Previously managed by Yale-NUS for the sole use of its students, now the Writers’ Centre provides support for all NUS students. Accordingly, 64% of the newly hired tutors in AY 2022/2023 are students not registered at Yale-NUS, to accommodate for the rising NUS population that would be availing of the service. According to Roberts, the Writers’ Centre has nonetheless conducted a similar number of consults for Yale-NUS students as before. 

‘Tangible reminder of the impermanence’

In the meeting, which took place on September 12th, Roberts said that more information would be released on the transition after the “first visit with SAs” after Recess Week. She continued, “taking student feedback is important to ensure that we’re delivering on our promise”, and considering library SAs’ opinions would be an important first step. She highlighted the importance of “especially [engaging] the students who are attached to the area because they really know what are the most important things that we need to lock in, in terms of service” prior to moving forward with the transition. However, as seen below in Figure 1, no information regarding the transition was shared with them prior to the meeting.

Figure 1: A copy of the email that was circulated to the library SAs prior to Recess Week.

Alongside the Library, another Yale-NUS fixture, the Fab Lab, which is currently under the ERT department, will be similarly transitioning to NUS Libraries. The timeline for this transfer is currently unknown, but it can be safe to assume that both will have fully moved under NUS Libraries by the next academic year.

For Roberts, as aforementioned, a big part of the reason to begin transitioning departments now rather than in 2025, is for staff service. Other than the promises made to students, the Yale-NUS administration has certain responsibilities to uphold towards the staff and faculty as well, and this drives the progressive transition. Roberts said, “We have [around] 200 staff…difficult to do it in a couple of months [if done after June 2025]” and by moving departments like the library and the ERT, “service remains guaranteed and we can support our staff with an orderly and smooth transition”.

The transition of the EdTech team within ERT would be with a similar service agreement, where “NUS would support Canvas and Blue, the course evaluation software, for us.” And in particular, Roberts insists that moving the library and the some other ERT teams are teams where “it’s relatively easy to lock in the service level” unlike “moving something the ADs and the RLOs…where we’ll keep those teams here with us until June 2025 because that’s the way we guarantee service.” The plan for administration is to continue “in general, to prioritize Yale-NUS while being fair to the NUSC students”.

Figure 2: A copy of the email that was circulated to the students who frequent the Fab Lab

For most Yale-NUS students, the change perhaps will not even be noticeable. Their priority access remains a given until 2025 by the word of many Yale-NUS administrators. In the transition of the library and the ERT, it can be expected that the greatest student stakeholders’ opinions, those who may frequent the Fab Lab or work at the library, will be heard and taken into consideration to lock in ‘a service level agreement’ with NUS Libraries. Nonetheless, the change and transition is symbolic. Slowly, but steadily, parts of Yale-NUS will no longer remain Yale-NUS’ in the near future.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the administrative transition would open the Fab Lab to all NUS students. Access for students not registered in Yale-NUS/NUS College is still under discussion. We have since made corrections in the article.

Want to tell us how you feel about the transition of the library and the Fab Lab? Have other thoughts on the story? Write to our Letters to the Editor column here.

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