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ACRL DLS Chair: Natalie Haber
Vice-Chair: Amanda Ziegler
Secretary: Stephanie Espinoza Villamor
Archivist: Andrea Hebert
Webmasters: Katie Stewart and Matthew Stevons (dlswebcontact@gmail.com)

ACRL DLS Member of the Month: July 2019

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 Mou Chakraborty, Director of External Library Services at Salisbury University Libraries. 

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: Mou Chakraborty

How long have you been a DLS member?
17 years and counting!

Where do you work and what do you do there?
I’m the Director of External Library Services at Salisbury University Libraries. I’m the point person for all things distance library services.

What is unique about your institution, and how does your work as a distance services librarian support the mission?
The library has a Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with different institutions in the Maryland area where SU has satellite locations. I touch base with the heads of these libraries to discuss if the needs of the students there are met satisfactorily. In most cases, however, the distance students directly contact me or the SU library. SU Libraries prides in adhering to the ACRL DLS Standards providing excellent services to distance students. I led the Distance Education Task Force which came up with a comprehensive report with short term and long term recommendations. I’ve done several surveys of distance students and faculty. I have created and maintain the Distance Library Services LibGuide. I work with other subject liaisons providing them with the support as needed for distance students in their departments. SU provides a multi-week faculty development program Soaring with Learning to prepare faculty to design, develop and deliver online and hybrid courses. I’m the facilitator for the week on library resources and am embedded in the course.

How do you bridge the distance with online learners? What’s one way you create community for your distance learners?
Often distance students feel isolated having no real connection to the campus. In every interaction I have with these students, I reinforce that they may be far, far away but not lost in the galaxy; help is a phone call or a click away. I created a Star Wars inspired video for our Social Work students who are all over the world which was received very well! Communication and collaboration are the key! I do information literacy via IVN, online, and even F2F. If I’m doing a F2F session on campus, we have ‘Zoomed’ in distance students.

I’m embedded in many courses where I ‘own’ a discussion thread (Ask Mou- the Library Guru!). I also embed course-specific LibGuides. I’ve created an Outreach Plan for distance library services and have realized some of the goals including a Blind Date with a Book, promoting services and resources on our social media during Distance Learning Week. We’ve also featured a distance student during that week on the library FaceBook page as well as in our library newsletter. On a regular basis, I interact with them via chat, email, send them short videos; I do longer IL sessions via Zoom.

How do you recharge your knowledge of distance library services?
I’ve learned so much about distance library services from my former boss at my previous institution who introduced me to ACRL/DLS. Since, then I’ve met some amazing people in the section, and working with them on different committees has been an enriching experience. The DLS conference was my favorite (felt like a home base!) and I’ve learned a lot attending sessions and/or networking with colleagues. I also keep up with professional readings and getting information posted on various listservs. The webinars that different ACRL/DLS committees organize are relevant and informative.

What’s something fun that you’re doing now (outside of your work as a distance librarian)?
Recently I was busy planning my son’s video games birthday party so I had to do a crash course on Fortnite 101 (seriously what up with that llama?!). I love coordinating theme parties. My son got me hooked onto Pokemon Go and now transitioning to Harry Potter: Wizards Unite! 🙂

What are you reading right now?
Pemberley: Or Pride and Prejudice Continued (a left over from our Blind Date with a Book), Percy Jackson – The Lightning Thief (for the mother-son book club that I initiated). I’m also re-watching the Harry Potter movies as I’m coordinating and leading a Harry Potter themed camp (Make your Own Magic: Ingenuity and Self-Reliance through YA Literature).

Twitter, LinkedIn, or other handles you would like us to share?
Twitter- @libmou

What else would you like us to share about you?
I was a medical librarian in my other life! In my previous position as a distance and instructional technology librarian, I traveled all over the country and some overseas! I’m a trained Indian classical dancer, so I choreograph and direct shows.

ACRL DLS Member of the Month: April 2019

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 Anna Uribe, lead Instruction Librarian as Ashford University.

If you are interested in being or nominating an ACRL DLS “Member of the Month”, please fill out this brief nomination/sign up form.

AnnaUribe

Name:  Anna Uribe

How long have you been a DLS member?
2 years

Where do you work and what do you do there?
I am the lead instruction librarian at Ashford University.

What is unique about your institution, and how does your work as a distance services librarian support the mission?

Three things that make us stand out:

  1. We’re completely online

We have no physical space or collections to manage. While this allows us to fully concentrate on online library services, it can also be a challenge because there aren’t many institutions we can model.

  1. We use standardized courses

Personally, I love standardized courses because of their scalability. I know that library supports we contribute to a course will help students across the university, not just specific class sections. The downside however, is that there’s less ability to make refinements or adjustments, so you have to really get it right.

  1. The library is a member of the curriculum development team

We have a standardized, well-documented curriculum development process. At the minimum, the library is invited to all course/revision kickoff meetings where we have the opportunity to introduce all the available library supports, and every course is reviewed by the library before it goes “live”. Depending on the needs of the course, we may also be invited to weekly design meetings, and work through the backwards design process with the faculty and instructional designer.

While this is a huge advantage, it’s still a challenge to integrate library and information literacy instruction into a course’s existing learning objectives.

One of my colleagues has a funny saying about us being pioneers in online education. What happens to pioneers? Well, a lot of times they get eaten by bears. I’ve presented our successes and failures at SCIL (Southern California Instruction Librarians) conferences, and I ‘m always happy to share what works and what doesn’t with anyone who will listen at a DLS conference.

How do you bridge the distance with online learners? What’s one way you create community for your distance learners?
I think the way we promote our 24/7 chat service helps to create community. We acknowledge library anxiety and try to use empathetic messaging. We also leverage our faculty in getting the word out. As a university, we’ve seen that faculty are our closest connection to students. At the same time, we know associate faculty are extremely busy, so we’ve developed ready-made course announcements that they can easily post to their class. In the end, faculty feel supported and students are being reminded from a trusted source that the library is here for them anytime day or night.

How do you recharge your knowledge of distance library services?
The DLS listserv and conference. I can’t express how gratifying my first DLS conference was! Not to knock other conferences, but as a completely online librarian, DLS was the first time I felt like I’d found some true peers.

What’s something fun that you’re doing now (outside of your work as a distance librarian)?
Planning a trip to Paris this summer.

What are you reading right now?
The Wind and the Willows. I never read it as a kid, and I am loving it!

Twitter, LinkedIn, or other handles you would like us to share?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/anna-uribe-7961764b/  

What else would you like for us to share about you?
Though I serve a non profit university, I’m employed by an ed tech company. I want other librarians to know that it is possible to work for a for profit company and be extremely proud of what you do.

ACRL DLS Member of the Month: March 2019

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 Raymond Pun, Librarian for Alder Graduate School of Education.

If you are interested in being or nominating an ACRL DLS “Member of the Month”, please fill out this brief nomination/sign up form.

RayPun

Name:  Raymond Pun

How long have you been a DLS member?

3+ years (I think)

Where do you work and what do you do there?

I work in the Bay Area at a new graduate school called Alder Graduate School of Education where I support students and faculty in K-12 education. It’s a startup environment where I get to explore and help design collection development policies, the library website, e-resource management workflows, and research services. I’m the only librarian in this school and it’s been fun working on both public/technical services work.

What is unique about your institution, and how does your work as a distance services librarian support the mission?

The school is very unique because it is completely remote with selected residency periods supporting students who want to be K-12 educators in public schools. I’m at awe at these students for what they have accomplished and their visions as school teachers. My work is to serve as a facilitator and help students access library and writing resources to prepare them professionally and personally. As the distance services librarian, I don’t get to see the students face to face (yet) but it has been exciting to get their messages seeking help or advice relating to research/writing. I am also happy to serve as the point of contact for collection development and getting collection request from faculty has been a nice way to support their teaching/research needs.

How do you bridge the distance with online learners? What’s one way you create a community for your distance learners?

Currently, I collaborate with colleagues in our school who teach and support our students in a variety of ways. Since I am still relatively new in the position, I have been giving brief intros to library and writing resources to our students via online. I’ve already had a chance to meet with several students for help and I am thinking of creating open or research-themed office hours to cover specific topics or research assignments. One area that I am interested in building is open educational resources (OER) for our collection. I hope this may encourage others to create more OER content for K-12 education too.

How do you recharge your knowledge of distance library services?

At times I peruse articles from publications such as Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning or CRL News, read web articles/reports from The Chronicle of Higher Education, webinars from various higher education groups too. It’s rapidly changing and exciting times to explore, revamp and strengthen distance library services.

What’s something fun that you’re doing now (outside of your work as a distance librarian)?

I travel locally or internationally for fun or for other non-library related work. Some places I have visited recently include Oslo in Norway, Stockholm in Sweden and Cyprus. All amazing places to explore!

What are you reading right now?

Practical Equality: Forging Justice in a Divided Nation by Robert L. Tsai

Twitter, LinkedIn, or other handles you would like us to share?

Twitter: @raypun101 (Twitter)

What else would you like for us to share about you?

I am originally from Queens, New York City!

 

ACRL DLS Member of the Month: February 2019

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.

KarlaAleman

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.  

ACRL DLS Member of the Month: January 2019

The ACRL Distance Learning Section (DLS) Membership and Event committee is continuing its “Member of the Month” initiative to highlight our diverse members.  Here is our highlight on John Stawarz, Online Instruction Librarian at Syracuse University.

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:  John Stawarz

How long have you been a DLS member?
I joined DLS in 2017 and attended my first DLS Conference in 2018.
John Stawarz Portrait
Where do you work and what do you do there?
I have served as the online instruction librarian at Syracuse University since January 2017. I also provide reference and instruction support, as my position is based in the Learning Commons.

What is unique about your institution, and how does your work as a distance services librarian support the mission?
One of the interesting challenges is that many of the earliest online graduate degree programs were launched in partnership with the for-profit company 2U, while more recently created programs are being developed in-house through our Center for Online and Digital Learning. This means we need to support online graduate students embedded within two very different organizational structures and learning management systems. I’m very fortunate to work with a wide variety of stakeholders involved with online and distance learning, which at Syracuse University has been growing in recent years.

How do you bridge the distance with online learners? What’s one way you create community for your distance learners?
Collaboration is key, whether it’s partnering with student groups, department faculty and staff, liaison librarians, functional specialist librarians, online learning centers, technology experts, or other stakeholders involved with online learning. For example, most of the fully online degree programs now require students to attend at least one campus-based or regional residency, and I’ve partnered with subject librarians to take part in these residencies, which allow us to affirm our support for these online students and develop a personal connection with them.

How do you recharge your knowledge of distance library services?
Being new not only to online learning but also to librarianship, I’ve found myself trying to sponge up as many skill sets as possible to support online programs, including project management, online copyright, user testing, information literacy, and instructional design through a variety of programs such as online EDUCAUSE and Library Juice Academy classes, graduate courses, distance learning conferences, and various social media platforms that bring together distance librarians into a community of practice. I’ve been amazed at how supportive everyone in the distance community has been.

What’s something fun that you’re doing now (outside of your work as a distance librarian)?
Now that I’ve finished back-to-back master’s degrees, I’m able to spend more time with my 5-year-old daughter, who’s doing a great job teaching me how people learn.

What are you reading right now?
Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, by Cathy O’Neil

Twitter, LinkedIn, or other handles you would like us to share?
Twitter: @libraryjohn

What else would you like for us to share about you?
I love that I get to work with a wide variety of people and programs, not only within Syracuse University Libraries, but across the entire university. No two days are ever the same!

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