Collections Programming Wildcard Wednesdays

Poetry from the Stacks

Earlier this year, I attended the ACRL Instruction Section Virtual Engagement Committee’s lightning round presentation: Engaging Students in Library Instruction – Experimentation and Innovation. Stefanie Hilles’ portion of the webinar – Engaging College Students in the Library through Serendipitous Browsing: A Creative Exploration – caught my fancy. She took inspiration from Nina Katchadourian’s Sorted Book series to create an activity engaging students with her library’s print collection.  

Our library recently completed a collection overhaul, transforming our stacks from overstuffed shelves crowded with faded titles to a sleeker, fresher look. We want students to browse, so for our summer book display, I asked library staff to create book spine poems of their own. The submissions ranged from ironic

Book spines stacked to read: The end of ice/ flames in our forest/ nothing to see here/ making the most of your money now.

to lyrical

Books stacked to read: the weaving explorer/ star gazer/ carve/ diamonds/ into the abyss/ creating their own image/ the glass universe.

to celebratory.

Books stacked to read: The best place to work/ the midnight library/ rereading childhood books/ banned books/ books for a living/ picture books for children/ heaven.

The poems are on display now, along with a sign encouraging students to make their own. 

So far we haven’t gotten any takers – it’s been a slow start to the summer – but I’m hopeful that some students will try their hands at book spine poetry. If not, maybe we’ll try the display again during a higher traffic part of the year!  


June 2023 Member of the Month

Tim Ream (he/him/his) is Systems librarian at Fullerton College Library in Fullerton, CA.  “I feel very lucky to work as a community college librarian in California. I’m part of a statewide consortium (CCLC) that is really supportive of its members.” When he’s not busy librarying, he enjoys local history, surfing, and watching his kids play soccer and dance.

He has been a member of CJCLS for 6 years and says this about his membership: “There are a number of different divisions and groups that I am a part of through ALA and ACRL, but CJCLS remains the most relevant to my day-to-day role as a community college librarian. I love speaking with other CJCLS members and learning about how their experiences more or less mirror my own. I might be speaking to a librarian from the other side of the country, but we are often wrestling with similar issues related to reference, instruction, collection development, systems, and other areas of focus. The solutions that we discuss are likewise very similar in approach and scale.

Like many of us, his job involves a lot of different types of tasks. He enjoys, “The diversity of my job tasks and roles. I get to work regularly in systems, reference, instruction, and acquisitions. At times this can also be my least favorite aspect of my job; especially when there isn’t enough time to devote to learning about new technologies.”

Outreach Programming

Outreach to Staff

Guest Author – Julie McDaniel, Student Success Librarian, Sinclair Community College, Dayton, Ohio

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.

Sinclair Community College campus

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.

Leadership Outreach

It’s not too late to join the team!

Although the formal application period has passed, the CJCLS Communications Committee is still looking for additional members. The charge of the committee is as follows:

To facilitate the sharing of ideas, best practices and news from ACRL/ALA units and relevant outside agencies to CJCLS members; assess the many communication options available and maintain a formal communication plan to disseminate information among CJCLS members. Membership on this committee includes the Section’s Webmaster and Newsletter Editor.

Hear from members about the value of joining the committee:

  • The committee is regularly active and working on projects.
  • It’s a chance for us to celebrate the work being done in community colleges! So much of ACRL content is focused on four-year institutions and not relevant to community colleges with fewer resources.
  • Get professional writing opportunities (like these blog posts!) to put in your portfolio.
  • Highlight news and innovations from community colleges across the country.

Interested? Reach out to the incoming chair Lisa Eichholtz on ALA Connect.


There’s More to the Story

This week is National Library Week! Our library has had a library-themed book display up all month (featuring titles such as Susan Orlean’s The Library Book) and I will be surprising my colleagues on Tuesday with some edible tokens of appreciation. Luckily I do not believe any of them read this blog.

There's more to the story. National Library Week April 23-29, 2023.

The theme this year is There’s More to the Story. ALA explains:

Libraries are full of stories in a variety of formats from picture books to large print, audiobooks to ebooks, and more. But there’s so much more to the story. Libraries of Things lend items like museum passes, games, musical instruments, and tools. Library programming brings communities together for entertainment, education, and connection through book clubs, storytimes, movie nights, crafting classes, and lectures. Library infrastructure advances communities, providing internet and technology access, literacy skills, and support for businesses, job seekers, and entrepreneurs. National Library Week 2023 will be a great time to tell your library’s multi-faceted story.

Individual days have their own themes:

  • Monday: Right to Read Day
  • Tuesday: National Library Workers Day
  • Wednesday: National Library Outreach Day
  • Thursday: Take Action for Libraries Day

Want more details? Interested in the ways ALA recommends taking action for each of these days? Want some social media graphics like the one featured in this post? Visit the National Library Week page for more!

How are you celebrating National Library Week in your library?

Events Outreach

CJCLS News for April

Below are two opportunities for professional learning and contributing to the CJCLS community in April.

Attend a Webinar

Register for CJCLS Webinar: How to Create an Effective Survey

April 24, 3-4pm EST 

Interested in using a survey to conduct research, but unsure of the design process? Learn the basics of creating effective research surveys.

Write an Article for the Newsletter

Share what is happening in your libraries and communities with other community college librarians! 

Read our call for CJCLS Newsletter articles. Submit your 200-500 word article by April 24.

Here are some examples of articles from past CJCLS newsletters:

  • Reaching Across the Campus to Support the Freedom to Read
  • The Value of Community Professional Development
  • Zero Textbook Cost Initiative
  • Library Equity Book Group
  • Seniors Going Digital
  • Hamilton Digital Escape Room to Teach Library 101

The More We Share, the More We Have” by Pietro Soldi for Creative Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0.

Thursday Thoughts Uncategorized

Supporting Others at ACRL 2023

I recently had the pleasure of attending the ACRL conference in Pittsburgh. While I could have stayed home and attended great sessions from the comfort of my sofa or my cozy office on campus, I was looking forward to being in person again. I enjoyed connecting with colleagues from all over the world. If I heard correctly. we had more first-time attendees than ever before. It was exciting to look out over the audience at the First Time Attendee Orientation on the opening night of the conference. (I was there to introduce the first speaker in my role as Chair of the ACRL Membership Committee.) I hope those who attended the orientation found it helpful and took advantage of the opportunity at the fair to learn about different sections and roundtables in ACRL. I strongly believe there is a place for everyone in ACRL with the variety of committees, roundtables, task forces, and sections.

This is the first time I’ve volunteered at an ACRL conference. I chose to put a couple of hours in at the Career Center as a resume reviewer. As a hiring manager, I have looked at many resumes over the years when hiring for positions at my library. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen any “bad” resumes, but there are ways to stand out with a strong resume that showcases your skills and achievements. Unfortunately, I did not have anyone meet with me during my volunteer time. In fact, there were more volunteers than anyone coming in for help, although a few people did take advantage of the Career Center. Hopefully we didn’t overwhelm anyone when they came in and all the volunteers perked up ready to help, as librarians will do. Still, I don’t begrudge the time I spent volunteering because I got to chat with a librarian from Canada about knitting and travel.

Still, if you are attending any conference that offers a Career Center where you can get help with interviewing, resumes, or just general job search questions, take advantage of it. Even if you are not currently looking for a job, it is important to keep your resume up to date. Plus, you can make connections with other librarians who may be helpful to you in your future job searches.

Member of the Month Uncategorized

April Member of the Month

I am pleased to introduce our April Member of the Month Erin Niederberger. Erin (she/her) is a librarian at Metropolitan Community College – Maple Woods in Kansas City, MO and she does a bit of everything – reference, teaching, collection development,

bookkeeping, tech wrangling, and anything else that comes up. Her favorite thing about community college libraries: “Doing a bit of everything! At some large institutions you can end up with a much more narrowly defined job title, and while I can see why the stability might be appealing, I enjoy having a job that means each day is something new.” A recent blast from the past: “While cleaning out our supply closet, I found a floppy disc with the first version of Windows. It’s a reminder of how much librarianship has changed in the last few decades – I’m excited to see what my job looks like in a few more! In the meantime, I’m tempted to ask students how many of them recognize it.”

When she’s not busy librarianing, she “enjoys baking and taking walks in local green spaces. Ideally those balance each other out, but this winter as it gets colder, baking is winning.”  She’s been watching Junior Bake-off on Netflix  “I alternate between being impressed by the bakes these young bakers pull off and alarmed when they feed the judges something they dropped on the floor.”

She has been a member of CJCLS for 4 years, and here’s what she has to say about her membership: “I enjoy lurking ALA Connect and learning about what other people are doing or getting pointed towards useful resources. It’s also fun to talk to community college librarians from other institutions in committees – so much of the wider academic library conversation focuses on four-year institutions, it’s nice to hear from people working with similar situations and constraints.”

You can find Erin on linkedin:

To nominate yourself or a colleague to be our next Member of the Month, complete this brief nomination form:

Wildcard Wednesdays

Webinar: Using ChatGPT to Engage in Library Instruction

If you read any education publications, you’ve probably heard about ChatGPT, whether you want to or not. Writers’ reactions range from excitement to doomsaying to dismissal, but everyone seems to have something to say.

A common topic of discussion is how ChatGPT will impact student research and writing. Although I haven’t encountered this myself, I’ve heard stories of librarians being approached by students with citations they want to track down, only to learn that the student generated the citation using ChatGPT and the article does not actually exist. I’ve also heard about schools considering banning the software. Nothing of the sort has happened at my own institution – in fact, there have been no statements, mandates, or guidance put forth at all. If people at my college are discussing ChatGPT, it is only behind closed doors.

Because of this, I was intrigued to come across a recording for a LiLi Show and Tell webinar from February 2023: Using ChatGPT to Engage in Library Instruction? Challenges and Opportunities by Ray Pun. In the presentation (embedded below) Pun introduces librarians to some basics about how the tool works, discusses benefits and risks associated with its use (with a focus on BIPOC and international students), explores how ChatGPT complicates citation and attribution, and offers ideas for activities integrating ChatGPT into information literacy instruction, with an eye toward helping students approach the tool more critically.

Pun takes pains to clarify that the content of the presentation will become outdated quickly (in fact, GPT-4 was released after the recording), but I still found a lot of the information thought provoking. In particular, his point that suspicions over ChatGPT use could fall more heavily on BIPOC and international students gave me pause. Instructors relying on stereotypes might have lower expectations for, say, non-native English speakers’ writing, and if the writing exceeded those expectations, they could falsely accuse the students of using AI assistance. It’s a reminder that educators need to remain aware of their own biases.

Although I don’t have a ChatGPT account and am not currently planning on making one, I was also taken by one of Pun’s suggested activities: having the AI generate a reading list of sources for a topic and then asking students to critique the list. Are all the sources real? Do the selections make sense? What’s left out? It’s a good way to show students the limitations of the AI and get them thinking about the broader limitations of ‘canonical’ research – the AI’s selections will likely recreate hegemonic biases in whose research gets the most attention.

Whether we like it or not, and whether commentators’ positive and negative predictions end up being overblown, AI is something we as librarians will have to deal with for the foreseeable future. Presentations like Pun’s are a great way for us to start thinking about how to handle it.  

Events Technology

Digital Inclusion

My first job after finishing my library science degree was at a public library in Camden, New Jersey. For many patrons, the library computers were their only access to computers and the internet. I helped patrons fill out job applications, write resumes, and more. I remember trying to help a patron book an appointment for an immigration interview. New appointments opened up at midnight, but by the time the Library opened, all of the appointment slots would already be taken. That job taught me digital inclusion involves more than providing access to computers, but also access to broadband and Wi-Fi, digital skills, technical support, and online content that enables all to participate. You can find a complete definition of digital inclusion on the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) website.

In my current job at a community college library, we lend laptops, calculators, and hotspots to students, and many students use our space for access to Wi-Fi and computers. Our lending services have grown over the last few years, as the pandemic put a spotlight on digital inclusion. The 2023 Net Inclusion Conference organized by NDIA was held at the end of February. I did not attend, but discovered that many resources related to the conference can be found online and wanted to share these resources, as they are relevant to libraries:

The Word Cloud below is made from the conference session titles and gives you an idea of the type of information you can find on the conference website.

Word cloud made from titles of Digital Inclusion Conference session titles. Most prominent words include digital, inclusion, and equity. Other words include community, building, research, affordable, device, mapping, initiatives, programs, healthcare, government, policy, and workforce.
Conference Session Title Word Cloud