By Brady Meyring
When speaking about her 15-year career at the College of Marin, Nancy Kutcher’s passion for helping students is clearly evident. What is unclear is exactly what will happen to the Media Center after she leaves. She is set to retire on December 31st of this year. According to VP of Student Services, Jonathan Eldridge, “[Kutcher’s] position will not be filled, at least not in the short term.” The most likely scenario is that the Media Center computers and other resources will be moved into the library.
Eldridge says that the process of moving the Media Center, if it goes through, will not be completed by the start of Spring semester but should be done soon thereafter.
The Media Center, on the top floor of the Learning Center Building, offers 18 computers networked to printers for student use. Many of these computers are loaded with specialized software that students need for certain classes. In addition, teachers often place DVDs and other media on reserve in the Center for students to access. Kutcher is present to manage the Center and help students troubleshoot issues with the Microsoft Office suite, printers and other equipment.
Kutcher, however, is concerned about a future decline in service after she retires. “If you feel that just putting twenty computers in the library solves the problem, it doesn’t. The needs of the students are being ignored. A lot of the powers that be think that the Media Center duplicates the library, but we tailor it to the students’ needs.”
Comfy office chairs and verdant plants placed throughout the room give the center a welcoming atmosphere. Mostly, however, students appreciate a quiet and dedicated space for computing work.
“It’s so loud over there [the library] and it’s so quiet here,” said Lana Kreyzel, an early childhood education student who visits the center two to three times a week.
Kutcher is afraid that a planned merging of the Media Center into the library will only result in more traffic and noise in the library. She argues also that the library staff is already down personnel and the proposed move would increase their workload.
“The chairs are very comfortable and it’s quiet in here all the time. I get so much out of my experience here. We need a space other than the library,” Marie Corbin, a nursing student said.
It remains to be seen if the proposed changes will actually result in a diminished experience for most students. Eldridge, for his part, states that “the College is committed to continuing to provide – and even expand – the services students can obtain in the Media Center.” A move to the library would also include upgrading the Media Center computers to newer models.
Some students have no desire for any changes to the Media Center. Approximately 125 students have signed a petition requesting “the continuation of services provided by the Media Center” and a smaller group have signed a separate petition asking for a meeting with the College president about the matter.
With Kutcher’s retirement as Media Center Director, some change is inevitable. What impact those changes will have is the part that’s harder to predict.