The ACRL Distance Learning Section (DLS) Membership and Event committee is continuing a “Member of the Month” initiative to highlight our diverse members. Here is our highlight on Karla Aleman, Dean of Library & eLearning Division at Lorain County Community College.
If you are interested in being or nominating an ACRL DLS “Member of the Month”, please fill out this brief nomination/sign up form.
Name: Karla Aleman
How long have you been a DLS member?
Since 2010 or so. It’s been a while.
Where do you work and what do you do there?
Lorain County Community College, Dean of the Library & eLearning Division
What is unique about your institution, and how does your work as a distance services librarian support the mission?
We are a medium-sized community college recently distinguished as the #1 Community College in Student Success by the American Association of Community Colleges. We’re quite proud. 🙂
As Dean, my librarianship has changed somewhat from my days as a distance services librarian (my former position). Now it’s all about supporting my teams (both the Library and eLearning teams) in their work supporting the college’s mission and students. My work is a combination of strategic planning, project management, budgets, advocacy, marketing, meetings, meetings, and more meetings.
How do you bridge the distance with online learners? What’s one way you create a community for your distance learners?
A large area of focus for me now is faculty professional development and accessibility. Although I don’t have regular contact with students the way I used to, I now get to work with faculty and the college administration in providing consistent, welcoming, and accessible learning environments. For example, I’m currently partnering with the Provost, the college’s Center for Teaching Excellence and Faculty Senate in developing a holistic program for faculty professional development. Preparing faculty to work in online learning environments and create a community within their classes (and with the library!) is one focus for me on the project.
As an administrator, I tend to work behind the scenes. It’s a lot of committee work that leads to bigger changes based on new standards and new resources. My goal is always to address the bigger hurdles both students face as lifelong learners and the college faces in these demanding times. In truth, I miss working with the students on a regular basis. That being said, I now engage students in new ways, through focus groups and campus task forces and the like. My definition of community and engagement has likely changed as a result, but I can confirm that student engagement and feedback is as important to my work now as it was in the past. It is a key element to creating learning environments and communities that are truly equitable and accessible.
How do you recharge your knowledge of distance library services?
A combination of reading, chatting and visiting. ACRL’s Distance Learning Section is a great resource for all of the above, and I’ve learned so much about the field by being a part of the section. Library conferences are almost always well worth attending, and I consider myself very lucky to have had the funding at my various institutions to attend as many conferences as I have (about one or two a year). I also look to non-library organizations (EDUCAUSE, Quality Matters, etc.) to see what trends may impact the library field.
What’s something fun that you’re doing now (outside of your work as a distance librarian)?
I’m writing a book for fun about a magic doctor who struggles with loads of ethical questions regarding human experimentation.
I’m also planning my first spring garden.
What are you reading right now?
Evicted (by Matthew Desmond) and Wind Breaker (by Yongseok Jo; translated)
Twitter, LinkedIn, or other handles you would like us to share?
@LibLookingGlass for Twitter (but I rarely post)
What else would you like for us to share about you?
If you’re interested in becoming a library administrator, don’t be afraid to go for it. It’s a lot of work, but well worth it.