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:
CJCLS colleagues — we would love to hear about what is happening in your libraries and communities! Why not write an article for the Spring 2023 CJCLS Newsletter? We are looking for stories about:
equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives
collaborations with other departments or institutions
other ideas — what do you have in mind?
Please contact us with any questions, or submit a story between 200-500 words with your name, job title, and your library name to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, April 24. The newsletter will be published in May on ALA Connect, via social media, and our Newsletters webpage.
I recently discovered this amazing collection of artwork: The Greats, free illustrations from great artists to change the world. All works are published with Creative Commons licenses.
You can browse the Greats artwork by theme: * LGBT+ Rights * Women’s Rights * Freedom of Speech * Freedom & Democracy * Equality * Climate Collection * Resilience * Animal Rights * Empowerment * Black Lives Matter * Hate Speech * Reimagining Human Rights * Culture of Solidarity * Anti-War * Bridging and Belonging * Planned Parenthood
At my college, librarians are considered faculty. We share the classification of “non-teaching faculty” with counselors, even though both librarians and counselors offer elective courses and programming such as workshops or instruction sessions. This status is a good thing – it means we’re protected by the faculty union and contract, which impacts everything from pay to representation.
As valuable as this faculty designation is, it sometimes doesn’t seem to register with the rest of the campus community. I can’t blame teaching faculty for rallying behind issues impacting them – these days in education everyone is having to fight to protect their interests. However, it’s been frustrating to have to explain repeatedly to surprised colleagues that I am a fellow faculty member. A high-level college administrator once commented that they “would’ve liked to see someone from academics in the room” in a meeting where I and a counselor were both present.
These interactions have led me to wonder what can be done to bridge this gap. Non-teaching faculty attend faculty meetings and sometimes lead campus faculty associations. We often share information about our instructional services, but it seems like the message isn’t always getting through.
I’m writing this post out of curiosity – are librarians faculty at your campus? If so, have you had similar experiences? What have you done to raise the profile of librarians with teaching faculty and administrators at your institution?
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.
I became active in CJCLS in 2018 when I volunteered for the Membership Committee. I became the chair of the committee and have enjoyed working with community college librarians from across the country. Our libraries are very different, but also very similar. I’m so glad I volunteered.
Lisa Eichholtz – Jefferson Community and Technical College, Kentucky
I have been involved in CJCLS for the past three years. Meeting other community college librarians has been inspiring. As part of the Communications Committee, I coordinate the ACRL Community College section blog and newsletter to share stories and ideas from community college librarians across the U.S.
Suzanne Bernsten – Lansing Community College Library, Michigan
There are so many intelligent, thoughtful, and creative community college librarians out there and I’ve learned so much from them. I enjoy hearing about how other people meet challenges and I get inspiration and ideas to bring back to my library. I’m a better community college librarian because of my involvement with CJCLS.
A few years ago, our college gained access to our consortium’s OverDrive collection, which helped us radically expand our collection. As a community college library, there’s a limit to how many fiction titles we can purchase. Our primary mission is to support the curriculum, but we also value giving our students access to leisure reading. OverDrive allows us to do that while saving money and shelf space. We purchase titles for the collection, but we also benefit from the purchases of other members of the consortium, including several large public library systems.
Although OverDrive was a great addition to our collection, it hadn’t been seeing much use. We marketed the acquisition to faculty but had difficulty reaching students directly. Our solution? QR codes.
QR codes may not be as omnipresent as they were a few years ago, but they’re still useful, especially when your student body is frequently on their phones. Our staff uses Canva to design library signage, and Canva has a built in QR code generator! When working on a project in Canva, navigate to the apps section of the editor side panel. Plug in a URL, and you have a QR code ready to add to a design.
Where have we been putting those QR codes? Everywhere. From our print shop, we’ve ordered large movie-style posters displayed on a sandwich board outside the library building. Slides featuring literary jokes alongside QR codes to the books being referenced cycle through campus digital screens.
We’re also integrating our digital collections into book displays. While older displays were limited by what we had in our physical collection – which in turn limited the themes we could choose – now we bring in digital titles by propping up cardboard-backed cover printouts with QR codes. This lets digital books take up just as much space as physical books. We even did an all-digital book display in December, when students wouldn’t be able to check out print titles over the winter break.
Is it working? We haven’t gotten the latest usage stats for our OverDrive collection yet, but we’ve had several students ask about digital titles, and the campus vice president mentioned (unprompted!) how creative she found our digital slides.
Overall, this has been a great way to give our digital collections equal visual presence in our library and draw students’ attention toward an underutilized resource. I may be a staunch opponent of QR codes replacing printed menus, but I encourage you to explore using them to leverage access to your digital collections.
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.
A while ago, I wrote about starting a major collection review in my library after the staff members in charge of acquisitions departed. Our review has revealed a lot of (sometimes amusingly, sometimes alarmingly) outdated materials. One highlight was a book on the potential of a hot new website… MySpace.
As satisfying as it is to dig into a big project, I don’t want to find myself in this situation again ten years from now, or leave a similar mess for my predecessor. Our library needs a more structured collection development plan, including a plan for weeding. This is complicated by our reliance on part-time positions – I am the only full-time librarian with collection development responsibilities, supported by a group of PT librarians that has seen significant turnover since I started this position. A liaison model where everyone claims an area of expertise isn’t sustainable in this situation – what happens when a PT librarian departs?
I put out a call on ALA Connect to see if anyone else had solutions to this conundrum. Here are a few suggestions I received:
A librarian from a larger community college than mine has been able to use a liaison model, with specific librarians claiming multiple areas. They also receive purchase suggestions from thier book jobber GOBI based on their library’s profile. However, they don’t have a set schedule for weeding or selection, and both can fall to the wayside when the library gets busy.
A different tactic shared with me was a weeding cycle where all the librarians worked on the same call number section (in this case using LoC classification), with the cycle lasting a total of eight years. Sections where publication date is critical, such as medical information, have a shorter four year cycle. Focusing on one section at a time means the plan is not impacted by staff turnover.
A third library had also found themselves with a collection where weeding had been neglected due to the college’s small size and limited staff time. Their approach was to develop a weeding schedule that aligned with their disciplines’ five year review cycle. That way, faculty would be thinking about their program’s needs at the same time, and the librarians could build collection updating into the review feedback process.
There are some good ideas here, and I’d love to hear more. How do you approach collection development and maintenance at your college?