Focusing on college faculty and students in our work as librarians can make it easy to overlook the potential of reaching everyone else who works at our institutions. At Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, we have launched a variety of initiatives that help us connect with college staff, which we believe help us promote library resources to staff.
In my role as Student Success Librarian, I work with college staff who are also connected to student success and represent a wide variety of departments on campus. Part of my role is to connect staff to as much information about our college as I can to make sure that students are receiving the most accurate information the first time and to decrease inaccurate referrals. We have created several ways to do this. These programs go beyond the library’s traditional role of articles, books, and video.
We created a series of programs, called Sinclair 101, that help staff learn about other departments on campus. The Sinclair 101 team hosts two events each month – one where we tour a campus space (such as our automotive department, culinary spaces, theatre backstage, etc.) and one where we have a question-and-answer session. Staff are generally excited about the opportunity to talk about their area and other staff appreciate the opportunity to learn about the services, resources, and offices on campus and how they can help students. The cross training and new knowledge allow everyone to better serve students and improve referrals between departments.
Our library hosts an Employees Pursuing Graduate Degrees group once a month to allow employees to share successes and struggles while encouraging one another. As the participants discuss their experiences on their way to advanced degrees, we have been able to talk about library databases, citation management apps, predatory publishing, interlibrary loan as well as general research topics. We have also been able to make referrals to our Institutional Review Board and Research, Analytics and Reporting departments. Staff appreciate the attention to their “outside of work” projects and we benefit by being on the cutting edge of community college research.
We created a series of programs called Tips, Tricks & Hidden Gems that focus on various software programs or apps that are used on our campus. A “super user” leads the session and shares tips or work arounds that are helpful to others who also use the systems. Participants in the sessions are encouraged to share their shortcuts as well as ask questions to allow the group to problem solve as needed to help everyone do their job better. We were able to have one session focused on the library where we reviewed our website and used that as jumping-off point to talk about all our resources – which are, of course, available to staff as well as students.
In general, we have raised the visibility of the library by reaching college staff to help them do their jobs better as well as helping provide current accurate information about our institution to help our students succeed.
Stephanie D. Davis Christine (Mi-Seon) Kim ACRL/CJCLS Scholarly Research Committee
Conducting research on human subjects requires oversight, and in higher education this involves working with an Institutional Research Board, the IRB as it is commonly called. In December 2022, the CJCLS Scholarly Research Committee hosted a webinar on the topic, “Successfully Navigating IRB Processes as a Community College Librarian,” featuring a panel of presenters including Faith Bradham, Bakersfield College in California; Vikki C. Terrile, Queensborough Community college, the City University of New York; and Terra Jacobson, Moraine Valley Community College in Illinois.
During the Q&A discussion, panelists were asked a series of questions:
What kinds of structures or support are available for the IRB process at your institution?
What challenges did you experience?
What are the potential pitfalls? What are the unspoken norms that you should have known?
What surprises did you encounter in the IRB process? What was new for you?
What are some best practices? What would you have done differently?
The 38 webinar attendees heard from the three panelists about their experiences working with an IRB. The basic requirement of an IRB is for the researcher to share their research plan, such as any instruments they will use to collect data and information, for review by the IRB to ensure the research follows established protocols.
Each panelist indicated that working with an IRB for the first time is a learning process. Terra Jacobson noted, “I was nervous, but it turned out to not be scary, and they were helpful with the process.” It was also shared that each institution approaches the process differently. Large institutions where research is common, like the City University of New York (CUNY), have a formal process with a point person to answer questions and help researchers. At other institutions, the IRB process is informal and is worked out on a case-by-case basis. Not all community colleges have an official IRB, but rather researchers work through an institutional assessment office or other department responsible for collecting and reporting student data.
During the question-and-answer period, attendees were asked about training, approval time as well as potential pitfalls. All three agreed it is beneficial to get training, if possible. Terra and Faith shared that their learning started when they entered a doctoral program. While approval times vary, two weeks was shared as a common time frame. If an IRB has concerns or questions, revisions are possible. Pitfalls included difficulty obtaining consent from research participants, particularly in the online environment, as well as not fully understanding the difference between exempt and non-exempt research. Survey results showed an interest in continuing the conversation on IRBs and the research process in general.
The Scholarly Research Committee's charge is to advance and promote research by and about community college librarians. Information on Committee activities, including future webinars, is available on ALA Connect.
By Molly Ledermann, Washtenaw Community College, MiALA CCIG Chair
The Michigan Academic Library Association (MiALA) Community College Interest Group meets virtually every other month to network, problem-solve, discuss hot topics, and learn together. In December, we decided to devote the entire meeting to experiencing a new misinformation escape room from the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public. It is the first of several interactive misinformation games that will be available through Loki’s Loop, a research project of the UW Center for an Informed Public with the UW Technology & Social Change Group, UW GAMER Research Group and Puzzle Break.
Three librarians, Suzanne Bernsten of Lansing Community College, Jen Fiero of Jackson Community College, and Laura Taylor of Macomb Community College, learned how to facilitate the escape room in advance so that they could run the activity for the rest of the librarians. So often as teaching librarians, we only experience learning activities that we have prepared, adapted, or created ourselves. As one of the participants, I can say that it was both fun and eye-opening to go through the escape room from the perspective of a student and have no advance knowledge of what was going to happen next!
The escape room is called “The Euphorigen Investigation.” Participants must investigate claims a company is making about the success of its newest supplement before the government introduces it to the public water supply. Puzzles challenge participants to use their information literacy, data literacy, and self-reflection skills, as they navigate misleading charts, identify deepfake images, reflect on the impact of social media behaviors, and recognize the influence of confirmation bias. The escape room took just under 45 minutes to complete and solving the puzzles was definitely a team effort. We did need an occasional tip from one of the facilitators when we got stuck on the mechanics of manipulating and moving through a specific puzzle.
During our debrief, everyone agreed that the storyline, puzzle construction, and images were outstanding. We discussed how the activity would be great not only for students as part of a class, but also as professional development for faculty or staff. Post-activity discussion could easily be tailored to a specific audience, or highlight particular puzzles in the game. The best part is that the Escape Room is available in both virtual and in-person formats so it isn’t tied to a specific mode of delivery. Everyone left the meeting brimming with excitement and ideas about how they could use the activity in their own institutions.
Time is one of the biggest challenges in a community college library. We all know how many webinars go unwatched, saved links go unclicked, and articles go unread. When we can set aside even a short amount of time to explore together, everyone benefits! Our MiALA Community College Interest Group is already looking forward to exploring more activities and ideas together in the future.
Meet Kathy Ladell, our November CJCLS Member of the Month (submitted by Kodi Salyor)
We’ve gotten a little behind in Member of the Month posts, for which we apologize.
Kathy (She/her/hers) is a librarian at University of Cincinnati Clermont College Library.
As a Student Success Librarian, a large part of Kathy’s work is partnering with other student support entities on campus in particular, the Learning Commons to host events during midterms and finals to support students. Kathy’s favorite thing about being a community college librarian is working with students and providing direct support because the emphasis as a community college librarian is on teaching and supporting students.
A newer member of CJCLS, Kathy joined the section this summer and believes that the section is a good way to network with other community college librarians to get ideas and support in her work.
When Kathy is not working, she is cycling in the warmer months, doing at least 50 miles per week. During the colder months with less daylight to explore the bike trails, Kathy transitions to her indoor hobby—knitting which she finds is an excellent stress reliever. Lately, Kathy’s been enjoying watching Harlots on Hulu. Last but not least, Kathy has a very geriatric cat named Loki, who she describes as the sweetest cuddler in his old age.
by Meagan Fowler, Assistant Professor/Librarian Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland, Ohio
To bring attention to the research that is being conducted in and about community college libraries, in this sponsored post the ACRL CJCLS Scholarly Research Committee would like to highlight research conducted by researchers at Florida State University and the University at Buffalo that was published this past July in College & Research Libraries.
RQ1. What are the self-perceptions of students concerning their IL needs?
RQ2. Do students’ self-perceptions of their IL needs vary based on their educational and career goals?
RQ3. Do students’ self-perceptions of their IL needs vary based on the type of instruction they received (skills-based vs. threshold concepts)?
Latham et al. (2022) conducted semi-structured interviews with thirty-four students at five community colleges in Florida and New York and found that while students did value IL and understood its importance in their academic, personal, and professional lives, how they applied IL varied depending on the context of the information need (i.e., the sources that they considered acceptable for their personal work may be “good enough” for their academic work). Further information also emerged on the topic of students’ beliefs about their future careers and the applicability of IL and their perception of IL as a set of skills as opposed to threshold concepts.
You are encouraged to read the full article for a detailed review of the findings, interview questions, and implications for future research.
By Terra Jacobson, Moraine Valley Community College and Spencer Brayton, Waubonsee Community College
We’ve recently released a call for proposals (communitycollegelibraries.com) for our new edited book “Valuing the Community College Library: Powerful Impact for Institutional Success” to address a gap in the community college literature. The plan for this book is to provide a historical background to community colleges and community college libraries, while also trying to push away from commonly held negative narratives to prevent further siloing ourselves from other areas of librarianship. This publication is not targeted at specific areas of practice but is a more holistic approach to showing library value through the historical context of these institutions, as well as practical applications and future thinking.
There is a gap in this area of publication for community college librarians and we aim to support them in proving their value and thriving with the assistance of this publication. In our research, we have not found a title that does the work to fill this gap. No other titles target community colleges and their librarians in this way and we want to work with community college librarians across the country in urban, suburban and rural settings of all sizes to share our stories of student success and opportunities we see for the future.
We’ve got the tools to become the student success center of campus. We already are, really. We just need to work on demonstrating that value to administration and others. This book formalizes the work we all do to make it concrete, citable, and shareable. A way to reference the impact and value of community college libraries and push forward the new narratives of the future of community college libraries.
Support to authors will include opportunities for networking teams to discuss / share research and help one another through their writing process. There will also be opportunity to continue to work together and support each other with additional professional development through panels and podcasts.
An Examination into the Library’s Influence on Community College Success, by Kate McGivern
About Dissertation Summation: In Dissertation Summation, we read a dissertation related to community colleges and their libraries and note the key takeaways for you. This summary is more than an abstract but not the entire dissertation... because you don't have the time to read dissertations; you work in a community college! This segment provides an opportunity to highlight the doctoral work in the LIS field in community colleges and share the great research our colleagues are conducting. If we are lucky, you also hear from the author as they reflect later on their process.Do you have a dissertation you've completed that meets this criterion? Please comment below so we can share your research work with the population most interested. Please include full citations of your work.
McGivern’s Dissertation An Examination into the Library’s Influence on Community College Success considers the links between “award-winning community colleges using the framework created by the ACRL Standards” (pp. 4-5) and if there are links between libraries and high-achieving community colleges. The researcher looks at winners of the Aspen Prize and those that have also been awarded the ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award to determine if there are “commonalities in practices, procedures, and policies” (p. 7) at these libraries “that make them a valuable asset to the institutions” (p. 7). This study had a sample size of three institutions, but due to issues with IRB offices, only two of the three eligible institutions participated in the in-person interview visits for this study. The research questions for this study were (p. 8):
What are the characteristics of excellent community college libraries?
What are the commonalities between the award-winning libraries which influenced their colleges’ recognition?
How did the libraries at these community colleges contribute toward the college’s success?
The methodology used in this study was a multiple- or collective- case study design utilizing qualitative data (p. 34). The author utilized interviews, documents, observations, and artifacts as evidence to inform this study (p. 8). They also utilized data from NCES and documents and reports that the institution provided. Site visits were conducted with two of the three selected institutions, and interviews were conducted with the head of the library and the Chief Academic Officer (p. 9) at each of these institutions. The researcher did not interview the third library since “the institution’s review board did not respond to a request for research approval” (p. 9).
The researcher makes assumptions about the awards provided to the institution in the “assumptions” portion of the study. They state that ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries “are examples of the best community college libraries. This designation sets them apart from other community college libraries and defines them as excellent” (p. 10). I struggle with this assumption as libraries are nominated (by themselves or others) for this award as the library must be aware of the award’s existence and have been able to put forth the time and effort to complete this application. This award has only existed since 2000. The Aspen Prize has only been in place since 2011. This study assumes that the Aspen Prize and the ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries award are actually signs of quality and equate to successful libraries and community colleges. A limited history provides very few institutions for this sample.
Using the multiple-case study design, the researcher conducted in-person interviews with two of the three institutions. These interviews were recorded and transcribed by the researcher themselves and were conducted within the same month. The researcher coded the data, utilized software to assist with this process, and created codes aligned with the ACRL Standards.
Regarding the findings and the anticipated outcome, the author states that they “anticipated that the study results would show a correlation between the Aspen Award-winning institutions and their libraries” and that the results would “indicate similar characteristics of excellence for all the college libraries of the study” (p. 38). The researcher found similarities between the institutions that included the following characteristics: “librarians are members of the faculty, with tenure, professional rank and representation in the college governance” (p. 60) and that librarians are considered partners in the “educational journey of their students and… a commitment to service to the college community” (p. 60). The researcher organized findings with each research question. Findings for each question are as follows:
What are the characteristics of excellent community college libraries?
The researcher found the following consistent characteristics (p. 69):
Intentional engagement in the greater college community
Collaboration with faculty and staff
Librarians that are active in college-wide activities and governance
Openness to change and willingness to adapt
Creativity and innovation with resources
Belief in the educational role of the library
What are the commonalities between the award-winning libraries which influenced their colleges’ recognition?
The researcher found the following commonalities (pp. 86-88):
Knowledge of their value to the institution
Contribution to institutional leadership and participation
Partnership in teaching and learning
How did the libraries at these community colleges contribute toward the college’s success?
The researcher found that they contributed to success in the following ways (pp 89-91):
Responsiveness to student needs
Using data to assess and demonstrated value
Engage in the college community
Actively engage students
Participate in professional development
Limitations & Study Recommendations
The researcher noted the following limitations to their study (pp. 101-102):
The need for a larger sample of community colleges.
Not all documents were available from all the institutions, and only two data sources were available for all institutions.
Data coding was limited to the nine ACRL Standards, and it only addressed the first research question.
A second researcher from outside of the field of librarianship would be beneficial.
The researcher provided five recommendations from this study and suggestions for further research. The researcher suggests that more “research should be conducted into library perception and value of other institutional stakeholders, especially community college administrator and Board of Trustee members” (p. 111). They also suggest in their second recommendation for further research that the value of faculty status for community college librarians is examined (p. 114).
The significance of this study is that it fills a major gap in the LIS literature for community college libraries. There is a gap in the amount of literature published on the whole about community college libraries and specifically a large gap related to community college library assessment, the value of community college libraries, and the perception of community college library value by campus administrators. This adds to a baseline of knowledge about the value assessment of community college libraries and compares two relatively new awards in librarianship and community colleges, which could be indicators of success. This study is limited as it only examines three institutions but provides a starting point and a direction for assessing the perceived value of community college libraries by library directors/deans and college administrators.
Commentary & Author’s Notes:
I asked Kate McGivern to share her insights and feedback about her dissertation, doctoral pursuits, and research work. Kate shared with me that she enjoyed the entire process of pursuing her Ed.D in Community College Leadership. At first, she did not plan to pursue her doctorate, but when an on-campus cohort program was offered, she decided to go for it and thoroughly enjoyed the coursework and entire research process.
Kate selected this research topic because she was passionate about student success outcomes related to libraries and wanted to know if there was a correlation between “great libraries and their institutions being recognized for excellence” through awards like the Aspen Prize. She advises that picking a research topic that you are passionate about makes the process seem like a breeze, but noted that the best motivating factor for conducting this research and pursuing her degree is that she was “doing it for me” and that even if it takes longer than expected, that is okay and to still count that “as a success.” The most difficult part of the research process was the repetition of some of the writing in the dissertation process. Kate notes that “some chapters started to feel like they were stating the same thing, over and over,” which made it difficult for her to recall what was addressed already and what was not, but “that is part of the dissertation process.”
When asked if Kate would change her research in any way, she stated that she “would not change it at all.” She loves the work that came from her study. Kate added that in addition to this research, a few more recent positives have come from this work. Kate has recently received full professor status at her institution, Bergen Community College, and has been asked to serve as Vice Chair of the American Association of Community Colleges’ National Council for Learning Resources committee https://nclr-aacc.org/ due to her research work.
Hello Community and Junior College Libraries Section!
Our CJCLS Mentoring Pilot Program was a success and we are now accepting applicants for the 2022-2023 (8-month) mentoring program. Pilot program participants shared many positive experiences. Comments included:
A positive experience and plan to participate again in fall.
This was very helpful for me to be able to talk with another director about the challenges we are facing.
Found it very beneficial to talk to someone further along in their career who is specific to the college setting.
Are you new to community college libraries and want to expand your professional knowledge and skills? Or are you an experienced librarian willing to share your knowledge to help others? The CJCLS Mentoring Program Committee invites you to participate in the CJCLS Mentoring Program!
We’re accepting participants until September 15, 2022. After the deadline, participants will be paired and there will be a Mentoring Program Kick-Off Meeting to review expectations. The program will run from October 15, 2022 until June 30, 2023.
Open to all who are currently employed at a community college library as a librarian, staff, administrator, or students enrolled in or recent graduates from graduate-level Library and Information Science (MLIS) programs.
Currently employed at a community college library as a librarian or administrator with a minimum of 4 years of library experience.
Highlights of recent research articles written by community college librarians and articles written about the issues that pertain to our libraries.
Tools, trainings and a spotlight on ways to grow your own research capacity.
A place for conversation in the comments section.
Thoughtful and salient opinions (we hope!).
Conducting research can be difficult in a community/vocational/technical/junior college. We often do not have staff tasked with research explicitly or tied to our promotion or tenure process directly. And it is critical that this research is conducted on us and with us. Our institutions frequently have higher numbers of first gen students, diverse and historically underrepresented students as well as PELL grant recipients, veterans and more. Our students are our strengths and while there are similarities to the demographic makeup of students in R1s, our populations are not identical. How do those differences impact the applicability of student success research done at R1s to our institutions?
How can we provide service to our students and our institutions through research? How can we help each other grow our research capacities? One thing we can do is collaborate with each other across institutions on topics we are most curious about. Our committee recently hosted a network and brainstorming session around ways to collaborate around potential research interests. A few people attended and the conversation generated turned out to be very valuable for future work opportunities. Would these informal conversations and community building sessions be something that could be useful if held more frequently such as several times a year? Alternately, is LibParlor a growing channel for this discovery of collaborative opportunities? How can we tap into the work of other existing ALA committees that focus on growing research capacity? All the questions.
Please let us know if there are any topics/papers/tools that you would like to see featured in this column. Did you publish something recently? Drop us a note below!
Are you interested in publishing in the library field? Or are you an experienced writer already involved in the field? The Library Writing Cooperative, organized by and for library workers, offers a First Draft Matchmaker service to match volunteer reviewers with writers for supportive and nonjudgmental feedback that can improve the writing process prior to submission at a journal, conference proposal, or trade publication and to encourage many voices to participate in the professional conversation.
For writers who hope to have their work reviewed, you get to choose the aspects of your work where you would like feedback. This offers you the chance to get some additional feedback before you go to an editor or further in the peer review process. Generally, the timeline for this process is 2-4 weeks depending on the volunteer reviewer’s availability. Request to have a reviewer look over your work. You don’t even have to have it done yet – tell us that you’ll have it ready in the near future and we’ll send you monthly check-in emails until you’re ready.
For reviewers who want to give back to the field by looking over others’ drafts and supporting new and practicing authors in the field, you’ll receive onboarding materials on how best to share feedback with colleagues and a letter of thanks to include in annual reviews. You’ll be matched with a writer on an as-needed basis as requests come in. Sign up to be a reviewer and learn more about the review process.
We are thrilled at the initial responses for this program and hope to see this help both aspiring and already established writers from across the library world gain help and experience through this program. Through discussions with others across different areas of librarianship, we’ve found that there is a range of support when it comes to publishing. Some areas are not as supportive because it’s not a requirement (and therefore it’s hard to find help if you’re interested in publishing), while others have very strict requirements due to things like tenure track responsibilities (so it might be a bit more competitive). This program opens up access to all librarians (public, school, special, community college or other academic librarians, archival, etc.) and provides supportive and nonjudgmental feedback.