Revitalizing the blog!

Happy Thursday! This blog has been fairly quiet for a few months. I’ve put out a call for contributors and gotten many responses. Hopefully you will see regular posts that are relevant to community and junior college librarians soon!!

If you are a reader of the blog that has something to say – please let us know! We’re always looking for new voices!

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Balancing the needs of students in the community college library space

As I write this, I’m sitting at the main service desk in my library. I can see all of the computers in the library from my viewpoint. We’re a small library on a small campus – but each of my 22 computers is in use.

Here’s what the students I can see are doing. There are students working in pairs, talking and discussing what they’re doing. There are students working independently on their classwork. There is a small group of students having a great time at the computers in the corner.

With all of this comes noise. Lots of noise.

In the rear of the library we have study carrels and tables. Many students are currently using these – they are attempting to use the library as a reprieve from the chaos elsewhere on campus and at their homes – yet I wonder how it’s working for them. Do they notice the noise? Is it bothersome?

How can we balance the needs of these varying groups of students in our very small libraries? We have no funding (or space) to build additional study rooms – we already have a small conference room (with no computers) and a very tiny “quiet” study room (that’s adjacent to my very noisy library instruction classroom).

It’s exciting to see so much activity in the library – but as a person that needs quiet to study, I cannot see how many of the students in the back are managing to get their work done.

How do you manage the different needs of different students in your library?

Notes from the UCF Information Fluency Conference

Several weeks ago I attended the Information Fluency Conference at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando. The conference title, “The Age of New Media: Literacy in the 21st Century,” seemed very relevant to me as a librarian. I’ve been interested in attending this conference for a few years as the overall topic of Information Fluency was selected as the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) topic for UCF.

Though I initially thought that this conference was going to be primarily about information literacy with a few presentations about some of the other “literacies,” I was pleasantly surprised to find that the conference is much wider than this. Presentations were relevant for librarians, faculty members, administrators, and students.

The keynote speaker for the program was Dr. James Paul Gee. He gave a lively talk that addressed a variety of topics surrounding his research and interest areas of video games, language and learning. If you’ve never seen Dr. Gee talk, I highly recommend watching some of his talks that are available online.

I attended a wide variety of sessions. Some showcased instructional strategies, while others provided reports of research, and others provided overviews of various projects at institutions around the country.

Madelyn Flammia, a technical writing professor, discussed the issues faced by three major groups of people that is a result of the migration of information online. Older users, persons with disabilities, and non-native English speakers have both unique and similar issues when attempting to access and use online information. Her presentation showcased the issues that might arise for each group and methods that could be used to prevent the issues.

The director and librarians of the UCF Health Sciences Library showcased the development and resources of their new library. The library is a physical space with a collection that is almost completely online. Librarians described how they developed the collection, established relationships with faculty members, and encourage the use of their materials and space. Many of their suggestions for encouraging use can be used by all librarians – not just those in a particular kind of library. Two of the suggestions that I would like to implement at my college are ‘Popcorn Day’ and library promotional slides on screens around campus. Each week the library pops popcorn at a specific time and distributes it to visitors to the library. This has gotten so popular that instructors in some courses have started scheduling a break at that particular time.

Using social media to promote your research, expand your professional network, and collaborate on projects was the focus of the presentation by Kimberly Voss and Lance Speere. Dr. Voss is an avid user of social media and showed how she uses social media to showcase herself online. Her presentation was really useful in providing us with tips and ideas for how to blend both our professional and personal lives online.

Overall I found this to be a very useful conference. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to interact with colleagues that were from different disciplines that are all interested in improving students’ access to  and use of information.

What do you do?

Last November I participated in the Great American Teach-In by visiting three kindergarten classrooms to talk about being a librarian. When I did this as a public librarian, especially when I was a children’s librarian, this was easy. I talked about a library that the children were likely familiar with, provided a story time, and passed out stickers and bookmarks. Now that I’m a community college librarian, I wanted to tell them about my current job and what I currently do. This really made me think about what it is that community college librarians do and how to demonstrate our value to our schools, administrators, and the community at large.

So what is it that we do? I’m not sure what all community college librarians do, but I can tell you a little about what I do. I am the solo full-time faculty librarian at a small campus of a very large community college. Officially I do reference, instruction, collection development, collection maintenance, and I am embedded in at least four courses each semester. I do workshops at many of our faculty in-services, new faculty orientations, and adjunct faculty trainings about the libraries. I serve on a variety of campus and college committees. Unofficially, you can find me helping students to use the computers, photocopiers, and scanner; assisting students with general college-related questions; serving as a club advisor; working at the circulation desk; serving as a sounding board for students; being a ‘friendly’ face on campus; and just about anything else that is needed to help students to succeed.

Students and other library patrons frequently tell me how much they appreciate my help – and I know that this is important. It’s important to be available, to show that you care, and to get up off your butt and actually help. While I know that is this valuable – how do we measure this? In the public library we could measure how many books were checked out, how many reference questions we answered, how many programs we had, etc. But here in the college setting – my students may never check out a book or may never ask a real “reference” question. Instead they found that the library was a welcome place on campus – where the librarian greeted them with a smile each time they walked in the door. Perhaps they participated in an online course with the embedded librarian, used the instructional materials in their course, but never interacted with the librarian – yet these materials enabled them to find the resources needed to write the essays in their course.

So what is it that I do? I help students to succeed in college. I may not help them in obvious ways – or in ways that they would be able to identify or quantify – but I know that their interactions with me help.