Community College Librarians are Researchers, too!

Join CJCLS for a “Sharing Recent Research” webinar on Thursday 3/18 at 3:00 pm. EDT. Register here:

Presenters include Robin Brown and Sandy McCarthy who have provided the following articles for you to preview the session. Join us on the 18th for the rest of the story.

A different type of diversity

Submitted by Robin Brown, Borough of Manhattan Community College, and Chair, CJCLS.

One of the least understood types of diversity is functional diversity.  Functional diversity is offered by JJ Poinke, as another way to describe “the disabled.” Librarianship is a field that attracts people with a widely diverse range of abilities and challenges.  We have done two surveys and a really interesting series of interviews with functionally diverse library people.  I propose to offer an overview of the results of our research. Our book will be coming out in March, (

Themes include:

Stability. Many of the people who responded to our surveys show remarkable stability in their jobs. Finding a place where you fit in is difficult.  Sometimes it’s the built environment. How is the commute? Getting into a good place with a manager who is meeting your needs… it’s an enormous risk to move on.

It’s is not all as it seems. One of the most striking learning experiences for me is discovering the prevalence of invisible disabilities within the profession.  Different learning styles and mental health issues really jumped off the page. I also learned not to “police” bodies (Kattari, 2018, 481). I learned not to critique people who are sitting in the disabled seat on the train, or who use the elevator. 

Really look at your job requirements. A requirement to have a driver’s license or to be able to lift heavy weights will exclude certain people from your pool of eligible candidates. Many excellent librarians don’t drive, for a whole variety of reasons.

We are often Type A driven people. Often people who have managed to come into the profession with functional diversity are ‘rock stars.’  At the same time many suffer from levels of exhaustion that an able-bodied person will have trouble imagining. Means that we are less likely to be social after work. 

This is a different type of diversity because it often coexists with other intersectional identities. We did address multiple identities in our work.


Kattari, Shanna K., Miranda Olzman, and Michele D. Hanna. “‘You Look Fine!’: Ableist Experiences by People With Invisible Disabilities.” Affilia 33, no. 4 (November 2018): 477–92. doi:10.1177/0886109918778073.

Pionke, JJ. “Beyond ADA Compliance: The Library as a Place for All.” Urban Library Journal 23 (1). Retrieved from

Community College Librarians are Under-Represented in the literature

Submitted by Sandy McCarthy – Washtenaw Community College and past chair CJCLS

The focus of my research is about community college libraries are underrepresented in the literature but yet community colleges play an important role in higher education. The profession of Librarianship often requires research and publication, yet many librarians lack abilities and skills in this area. To develop my expertise in research and publication, I participated in the Medical Library Association (MLA) Research Training Institute (RTI) in 2019. The outcome of the training and mentoring from RTI, helped me conduct a survey of librarians at community colleges who are responsible for collections and services in the health sciences.

Focus of the research study included:

Competencies in the medical library profession.  How do community college health sciences librarians perceive their competencies in professional skills and abilities? The survey focused on the MLA Competencies for Lifelong Learning and Professional Success “Professional competencies identify essential professional skills and abilities that can be observed, measured, and taught.”

Engagement in the profession. How engaged are community college health sciences librarians in attending conferences, continuing education, and presenting or publishing? I addressed where librarians connect with others in their community to help them with job responsibilities.

Barriers in the profession. What barriers do community college health sciences librarians face in developing their competencies? This final question identified barriers encountered in development of competences and engagement but also provided solutions to overcome obstacles.

The research supports the development of the CJCLS Scholarly Publication Committee and the new Mentoring Program Committee to encourage community college librarians to advance their skills and abilities in research and in publication. 


Medical Library Association. MLA competencies for lifelong learning and professional success [Internet]. Chicago, IL: The Association; 2020 [cited 10 Mar 2020].  <>

One reply on “Community College Librarians are Researchers, too!”

Looking forward to the Webinar this afternoon. “Are we underrepresented in the literature” because we don’t have time to do research (I feel like I am stretched pretty thin these days) and as interested as I might be in doing some research, or even just writing a “how we did it” piece, there just isn’t time. Like so many things, this is a funding issue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *