Universities Sign Unusual Library-Sharing Agreement

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New Jersey City University in Jersey City signed what it considers to be a forward-looking agreement July 28 to share its campus library with the University of Phoenix, a controversial for-profit college that wants to open a campus in New Jersey, a move that educators in the Garden State have collectively opposed.

The University of Phoenix was eager to close the deal in order to comply with New Jersey regulations that require a traditional library before it opens a planned center in Roseland. Critics of Phoenix, including the New Jersey Education Association, say they intend to fight the university's application for a New Jersey charter.

U of P Associate Vice-president for Research Kurt Slobodzian told American Libraries that Phoenix officials intend to file a new application to the state commissioner on higher education, probably by Labor Day. This is the second try for the school, which withdrew an application for a New Jersey charter last year after a barrage of criticism, including being dubbed "McUniversity" and "Drive-Thru U" by critics who pointed out its lack of academic basics, such as library books.

Slobodzian said Phoenix is "very aggressive about looking for new markets, working through the regulatory process." Whether or not the school's campuses offer a library depends on the state, he said. "We have a lot of students in California, where lots of academic libraries are available to us. Students who want a traditional library as backup to the full-text online material have a lot of choices. In an area of few choices, we are happy to comply."

In response to criticism of Phoenix's approach to education, Slobodzian said, "I absolutely believe in the narrow niche we have found for ourselves. …