Categories
Research Skills Corner

Dissertation Summation

An Examination into the Library’s Influence on Community College Success, by Kate McGivern

Kate McGivern. Photo by Joan Dalrymple.
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.

Citation

Introduction

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):

  1. What are the characteristics of excellent community college libraries?
  2. What are the commonalities between the award-winning libraries which influenced their colleges’ recognition?
  3. How did the libraries at these community colleges contribute toward the college’s success?

Methodology

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).

Assumptions

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.

Key Findings/Outcomes:

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
  • Service

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
  • Lead innovation

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).

Study Significance

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.

Kate can be contacted further about her research work at: kmcgivern@bergen.edu

Categories
Leadership Mentoring

Apply to the CJCLS Mentoring Program

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.

Participation Requirements

Mentees

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.

Mentors

Currently employed at a community college library as a librarian or administrator with a minimum of 4 years of library experience.

Submit your application by September 15:

Contact Committee Chair, Sandy McCarthy, at mccarthy@wccnet.edu with questions.

With Appreciation,

The CJCLS Mentoring Committee

Sandy McCarthy, Yumi Shin, Sabrina Dyck, Nathasha Alvarez, Laura Mondt, Mi-Seon Kim, Robin Brown

Categories
Wildcard Wednesdays

First Year (Not for the First Time)

A first-year experience is a best practice for student success and retention, but it has to be an experience that works. My institution’s previous FYE – a one-credit required college success course – had an unacceptable DFW rate. (I’m of the opinion that you shouldn’t be able to fail a college success course, but I don’t know how the grading worked.) The library wasn’t involved in planning or teaching the course, but we had relationships with many of the instructors, who brought their classes in for a fifteen-minute library introduction and tour.

That course was retired a few semesters ago, and our replacement FYE is finally launching thanks to the work of our new student engagement manager. The new program consists of a series of workshops covering key college topics and skills. The library was invited to participate, so we’ll be offering several workshops: a standard library orientation, a revival of our popular spotting misinformation session (just in time for election season), and a new offering called Fun Stuff in the Library to highlight recreational reading students may not know they have access to. We’ll offer each session at multiple times and in different delivery methods to maximize attendance.

These workshops aren’t mandatory, so I don’t know how well they will create a consistent, impactful first-year experience. However, we’re willing to try, and the library definitely doesn’t want to be left out of an opportunity to make sure new students know what we have to offer.

Does your college offer a FYE? How is your library involved?

Categories
Tech Tuesdays Technology

Web Team Show & Tell

I am the lead for our library’s web improvement team. We meet once a month and at every meeting, we set aside about 10 minutes for a team member to share something they have learned about technology related to libraries. Sometimes people share an article they read or information from a webinar or workshop they attended. By calling it “show and tell,” I try to emphasize that it isn’t a formal presentation, but an informal chance to share.

Show and tell. The l of tell has teeth to look like a month and a speech bubble next to it.
Show-n-tell by Johnny Goldstein is licensed under CC By 2.0

Here are some of the sources I encourage team members to use in looking for content to share:

Do you have other sources to recommend? What types of informal information sharing do you use at your library?

Categories
Research Skills Corner

Researching as a Community College Librarian

video, recording, scientific, research” by Jennifer Strickland. CC0.

Welcome to the Research Skills Corner, a sponsored post by the ACRL CJCLS Scholarly Research Committee

We plan to be here monthly to provide:

  • 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!

Categories
Wildcard Wednesdays

Reading on the Job

How often have you mentioned your profession to someone and heard in response, “I wish I was a librarian. I love to read!” Librarians know that the bulk of our responsibilities isn’t curling up somewhere with a book, however much we might enjoy doing so. But you can make reading books (and having opinions on them) part of your job.

Numerous publications include or are entirely devoted to book reviews intended to help librarians select titles for their collections. At my library, we regularly read Booklist, Library Journal, Choice, and the New York Times Book Review. Many of these reviews are written by librarians. After all, who better to recommend books than someone else making the same collection development decisions?

I recently saw a notice in Library Journal seeking reviewers for science fiction and fantasy titles. I have a soft spot for SFF (my holds list at the public library is always full of new releases) so I applied, a process that involved sharing some personal and professional information along with two sample reviews. I was accepted and am looking forward to reviewing my first title for an upcoming issue!

Interested in reviewing? Visit the Review for Library Journal page to learn more about their expectations and fill out the online application. I signed up to review genre fiction, but I noticed the most recent LJ issue solicited reviewers in several non-fiction subject areas. A few tips, if you’re interested:

  • Needless to say, consulting some existing reviews in the publication you’re applying to will help ensure your sample reviews are on target.
  • In the case of Library Journal, I’ve been told to expect to write one review per month. I imagine other magazines have a similar workload.
  • Worried about your bookshelf getting cluttered with ARCs? Don’t be – many reviewers now work from digital copies or DRCs. If you don’t already have a NetGalley or Edelweiss account, you may want to set one up to streamline the requesting process. 

I’m looking forward to this new way of contributing to the profession (and getting to officially make reading part of my job!) Now if only the publisher for my first assignment would approve my DRC request…

Categories
Tech Tuesdays

Crowdsourcing a List of Regional Groups of Community College Librarians

A few years ago, I gave a lightning talk at our local Michigan Academic Library Association annual conference as part of a panel of community college librarians. The panel was organized by our Michigan Community College Libraries Interest Group. I enjoyed sharing ideas with other community college librarians in Michigan and that experience inspired me to join CJCLS. As a CJCLS member, I have had the opportunity to meet community college librarians from many different states. You can read about some of these librarians in the Member of the Month feature on  the CJCLS Blog.

As I have become more involved in CJCLS, I was curious to find out how many states have regional groups focused on community colleges like we do in Michigan. So, last month, I shared an empty Google Sheet in our CJCLS ALA Connect group to crowdsource a list of regional community college groups. So far, librarians have added groups from Arkansas, California, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Iowa, and Washington. 

Do you have a group to add to the list? What do you find valuable about being a member CJCLS or of a regional group community college librarians?

Categories
Thursday Thoughts

Is hybrid our future?

View from the Blue Water, Amtrak

I’m sitting on an Amtrak train writing this post and pondering the future of remote work at my college. While a global pandemic would never be my preferred way to have forced the world to allow workers to work remotely, I have certainly appreciated the opportunities it has opened up, particularly once restrictions on travel were eased. In the early days, I was grateful for the safety it provided by not exposing us unnecessarily to COVID-19. As the months progressed, I saw my mental health improve as I had more freedom to structure my work day to allow for things like a short afternoon nap, breaks to pet dogs or walk outside, and a 9 am-6 pm work day. I’ve heard the same thing from many colleagues around the country.

These days, I’m gradually spending more time on campus in my library office and while it is nice to see people in person, I’m also feeling some sadness about giving up the ability to work from anywhere. I fear that the balance I’ve developed between work and personal life is about to be disrupted again and I’m pondering how to keep that from happening…or at least how to keep work from taking over my entire life, as it had pre-pandemic. Many managers work under an unspoken, but all too real, rule that we must always be accessible and available to our employees and our workplaces. That’s exhausting!

My college hasn’t decided how it will handle hybrid work yet. Employees have had a chance to provide feedback and there is a higher percentage of those who would prefer a hybrid option going forward. I think we all realize that there are parts of our jobs that must happen on campus because many of our students are eager to return in person. We know that not all students learn well in online environments and when it comes to the library, many of our students need to use our services in person. They also need our spaces like the computer lab and our study rooms. We have to be there for that.

But not everything has to happen on campus either. I am more productive on projects that require more concentration when I can work at home. There are fewer interruptions and distractions. I also trust my employees to be productive when they work from home. Stuff still gets done how it should and when it should. I’d like to be able to continue to offer hybrid work as an option and a benefit if that’s what they choose for themselves.

Bottom line is, there are benefits and drawbacks to both being entirely back on campus and entirely remote. It seems the future for work in higher education is developing some sort of hybrid model that allows for the good in both.

For more reading on hybrid work:

Why your boss might fire people rather than allow remote work

The Future Of Work: How Much Flexibility Is Good For Employees?

How the Rest of the World Is Doing RTO

Categories
Member of the Month

June Member of the Month

Meet our June 2022 Member of the Month:

Jill Sodt (she/her) is the Director of Library Services at Mott Community College in Flint, MI.

Photo of Jill Sodt
Photo of Jill

She has been a CJCLS member for the last ten years. She has this to say about why she stays involved: “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.”

When she’s not managing a library and serving the profession in CJCLS, she enjoys camping and fiber arts. “Last summer, I bought a new travel trailer and am getting back into camping again. I also like to travel to new places with my camera in hand. You’ll often find me with a knitting or crochet project whether I’m on the go or relaxing at home. During the pandemic shut down, I got into needle felting and rug hooking. Like many librarians, I also enjoy reading or listening to an eclectic choice of books from psychological thrillers to classics to modern literature. Lately, I’ve also been dabbling in vlogging about my life, travel, and other random stuff.”

She counts two rescue dogs as family members, including a retired therapy dog.

What are your favorite things about being a community college librarian?

“We have such a diverse student body in all sorts of ways, from the first-generation college student, students who are just out of high school, dual-enrolled students, and those older adults looking to change careers or get more education. I’m honored when they are willing to share their unique experiences, perspectives, and challenges with me. They make me want to continue working to improve our library, so they have the resources and spaces needed to meet their individual goals.”

Catch up with Jill on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jill.sodt.71/ or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jillsodt/  or reach out by email: jill.sodt@mcc.edu .

Her college has an on-campus coffee shop, if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by.

Categories
Wildcard Wednesdays

Summer in the Stacks

Temperatures are rising. Graduates have walked across the stage at commencement. The fiscal year is winding down. It’s summer, but depending on our contracts, many librarians are still at work. The summer months are often characterized by fewer classes, fewer students, and a slower pace to campus life. This lull offers opportunities to dig into projects we couldn’t get around to during the rush of fall and spring.   

I use summers as a chance to work on new projects and annual tasks like updating our libguides and handouts. Although this is my fourth summer at my current position, it’s only the second I’ve spent on campus. The last two were remote during the first years of the COVID-19 pandemic, a time characterized more by scrambling to create new workarounds than engaging with leisurely projects. But our library is open again for regular summer hours, and that means summer tasks are back. 

Now that I have access to the stacks, a summer project I’m hoping to sink my teeth into is a collection review. The departure of key staff members involved in acquisitions opened an opportunity to reimagine our collection development process. In the past, all librarians in our reference department participated in suggesting titles from periodicals like Choice and Booklist. Two staff members made the final decisions without consulting collection or circulation data. Over time, this led to a lopsided collection reflecting librarians’ interests and impressions.  

Our new approach involves dividing up our collection by classification ranges and reviewing each range with an eye toward the college’s programs. We also recently gained access to Innovative Interface’s Decision Center, which we can use to detect circulation patterns. I hope that this more methodical strategy will help us update our collection and better align it with the needs of our users. Along the way, we may catch books in need of weeding, like some computing guides from the early 2000s we discovered this spring! 

Are you working this summer? What projects will your library be tackling during these quieter months?