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Keeping Up With Scholarship

by Lindsay Davis

Earlier this month, Nora Bird, Associate Professor and Associate Chair of the Library and Information Studies department in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, announced that she was the new editor of the Community & Junior College Libraries journal.

In her message to the CJCLS listserv, she wrote:

We are always looking for content. We publish research length articles, opinion pieces (1000-3000 words), book and electronic resource reviews, and there has been a column, ‘The Librarian Abroad’ documenting visits to international libraries. So, if you are traveling this summer and want to submit something that would be great.

Maybe you are working on a project to re-design your library space or a service and have done a literature review in preparation for it. Please do consider sharing it. (2016)

I don’t know about you, but I have never heard of this journal. What a great place to submit articles about all the great work being done at two-year college libraries.

This also got me thinking—what journals (or other information sources) do two-year librarians typically read to keep up with and learn from the library profession and/or higher education? Let us know in the comments!

And don’t forget–the CJCLS blog also has a Scholarship page devoted to literature written by two-year librarians. If you’ve published a peer-reviewed journal article, book, or book chapter in the last five years, contact Lindsay Davis at davis.lindsay.ann@gmail.com, so we can add it to our growing bibliography.

Bird, N. (2016, July 7). Announcing a New Editor of Community and Junior College Libraries [Electronic mailing list message]. Retrieved from http://lists.ala.org/sympa/arc/cjc-l/2016-07/msg00041.html

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From the CJCLS Listserv: What advice would you give to someone considering library school?

ORIGINAL EMAIL:

A friend asked if I had any advice to give to her daughter, who is thinking about getting her Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS).  What advice would you give to someone in their mid-20s who is thinking about going to library school?

Respondents strongly recommended gaining library experience because of the advantages it gives to an applicant:

I receive applications from MLIS graduates without any library experience, except possibly an internship in library school. If the person has an opportunity to work part-time or in a work-study position in a library during their undergraduate education, that would be great.

I just finished writing a letter of recommendation for my practicum student. The letter was much easier to write because she also works for us as a library assistant and I know she is prepared for the job market.

Many respondents drew from their own professional experiences:

It is difficult to get an entry-level job without experience, even with a MLIS, which was the case for me in 2005.

Hands-on experience helped me land me my current job, along with having an MLIS.

Experience is indeed the key. I started off being a library office secretary while I attended graduate school for art history.  I progressed to becoming an acquisitions assistant and then held 2 different positions in government documents before going to library school while working full time.  Almost everyone in my library school cohort was already working in a library; the only one who did not was a recent Bachelor of Arts graduate without library experience, and she was very lost.

Experience is big. I did not have any library work experience prior to applying to library school, but I had some good conversations with librarians beforehand which helped inform my decision to apply.  During library school, I had some excellent experiences in many library settings and in various roles.  It helped me decide which department I wanted to work and also helped my resume so I could get that type of job out of college.  I do not think I was at a disadvantage by not not having prior experience before library school, but the experience during library school was critical.

Respondents agreed that the candidate can make a better informed decision to attend library school if she first gets experience, whether as an intern or employee.  Some respondents said this may help the candidate discover desirable positions or roles that do not require a MLIS:

I might suggest alternatives to the MLIS degree like certificates, diplomas, or Associate degree programs in Library Technology.  Check a community or 2-year college for such programs.  We appreciate the paraprofessional staff in our library who did not have the time, money, or interest in earning their MLIS; they are still outstanding members of our library team.

My son is a public services library clerk at Denver Public Library. It seems that DPL has more opportunities for skilled paraprofessionals than for MLIS librarians.  Because of this, he decided to hold off on library school (and the accompanying student loans).  He loves his job, has the same benefits as a MLIS employee, and is able to explore what to do next.

Other than experience, a level of comfort with technology was highly recommended:

One has to be engaged with technological changes taking place. Technology has attached itself to the core of our profession, and to not embrace or be good with it dooms a new person.

Embrace technology.  You do not need to be on the cutting edge, but you do need to stay informed and relevant.

Be as knowledgeable about modern online technology as possible.  Be cognizant of social media such as Facebook (or the next great thing), understand Google tools, and be able to create and maintain a webpage.  I probably would not hire myself for a job in my library because I am not up to date on what is out there; I will hire the fresh graduate to do it for me.

Another repeated suggestion was to look at job announcements or positions:

Forward some job announcements to her so she can see what kind of positions are being hired. I see a lot positions in electronic resources, electronic access, digital libraries, and more that are being advertised.

Read some job advertisements to see what skill sets are desired for certain positions.  It might help identify other related degrees and credentials to pursue.

Other suggestions included to be geographically flexible:

When she is ready to graduate and look for a job, she should be willing to relocate and be open to taking jobs in less desirable places.  The competition will not be as great and she can eventually return home if she wants to.  My first professional job was in the back of nowhere Kansas, but I learned a lot and met wonderful people who are still my friends 30 years later.  10 years and 2 jobs later, I moved back home to become a library director.

A couple respondents said the candidate should research the profession and also complete an inventory of her interests and personality traits.  The candidate should also look at some of her soft skills:

What do I want to be when I grow up?  What do I want to do when I grow up (not really the same question as the first question)?  Where do I want to live in the short or long term?  How do I want to live in the short or long term?  Then, ask these same questions with “don’t.”

She should read an excellent book by Lauren Pressley, So You Want to Be a Librarian, published by Library Juice Press.

People skills are very important.  Like it or not, librarianship is about a positive, interactive experience. Think customer service!

You need to be someone who really enjoys helping people. I am sure we have all been told by someone, “you’re a librarian, so you must love books!”  However, my interest in books is pretty irrelevant to what I do.  In my role as a reference and instruction librarian, helping others is the biggest part of my job.  Beyond that, it is also having patience while helping people because sometimes it takes a lot!

Some respondents expressed caution about the costs of library school.  One suggested not to pay for it with student loans, while another recommended getting a graduate assistantship that would pay for it, and also help with gaining valuable experience.

Respondents suggested the importance of professional networks, and to cultivate them early in her education and throughout her career:

Always remember the axiom regardless of the field: who you know gets you in the door, and what you know keeps you there. Plan to make as many quality connections with people in the field as possible when you go to school.  Use LinkedIn and other means of networking.  You never know who can help you.

Once in school, connect with people who can give you good references.  Work experience will help with this, but find professors to use as references.

Flexibility was also a key suggestion:

Do not pigeon-hole yourself in your learning path, or you might get trapped into being qualified only for certain types of positions.

Plan to work hard on your studies.  Be involved in pre-professional activities like student organizations and poster presentations.  Join state and regional library associations.  Read and listen to as much as you can; the information you get will help you contribute your expertise to conversations because it is easier to get known than you would expect, for both good and bad reasons.

Be flexible.  What you are doing now will probably not be the same in 5 or 10 years.

What other pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring library and information science professional?  Share yours in the comments!

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From the CJCLS Listserv: Should the library report to Academic Affairs or Student Services?

By Kristy Padron

ORIGINAL EMAIL:

We currently have a leadership vacuum at my library. Our library director resigned and less than a week later, his supervisor and the interim library director, the Vice President of Student Success, also resigned.

We now see an opportunity to possibly move the library’s place in the college reporting structure from the Student Success department to Academic Affairs, and report to the Dean of Academic Affairs or the Vice President of Instruction. I’ve searched the list archives but haven’t found much on this topic, so I’m wondering:

  • To whom do you or your library director report? Someone in Student Services or Academic Affairs?
  • If you made the switch from reporting to Student Services to Academic Affairs, or vice versa, what have been the benefits or drawbacks?

The respondents overwhelmingly recommended to go with Academic Affairs.  One librarian, whose unit reports to Student Services, described her experience:

The meetings I attend are with the heads of units like financial aid, athletics, admissions, and housing.  We found ourselves in meetings discussing enrollment management issues and did not understand why we were there.  I don’t meet (and am not invited to meet, and in one instance was told I shouldn’t meet) with faculty. This makes it harder to establish rapport with them.

The librarian also stated her area is often tasked with activities not traditionally done by libraries, such as proctoring make-up tests and issuing school identification cards.  This seemed to feed inaccurate perceptions of what they do:

When Student Services staff give prospective students and families campus tours, I often hear them say when they stop in the library, “this is where you come to make up a missed test.” That’s all they have said about the library!

As a result, the library is often overlooked by faculty.  While the library is seen as a physical space, the college does not understand their staffing, budget and IT support needs.  The library is often seen as having a support role but its employees are not on equal footing in terms of pay or status with other colleagues who have comparable duties and levels of education.

Librarian status was affected by the department to which they reported:

Reporting on the academic side means you are faculty.  At my college, faculty must have a master’s degree.  Since librarians have a master’s degree, we are all equals.  This gives us a voice in governance, which is key.

Many, but not all, of the respondents who said they reported to Academic Affairs said librarians had faculty status.  This strongly affected their roles on campus, particularly with governance:

Having faculty representatives is great in the governance structure, and then having my position be in administration is advantageous because of my opportunity to be part of the management team.  Many of our college committee’s bylaws (instructional council, curriculum, etc.) specify a library representative.  In most cases, it is a voting role, but in some it is non-voting.

Librarians do not have faculty status in some libraries that report to Academic Affairs.  This bars them from participating in professional development, governance, and other campus activities.  Those who reported this added that administrators and sometimes faculty do not know or appreciate what the libraries can contribute to their college.

Many of the changes in reporting structure formed as a result of retirements, resignations, or restructuring:

My sister college had a librarian serving as Dean of Library and Learning Resources. Upon retiring, the position was vacated and they now share a dean with Literature-Language Division. The dean is a former English instructor.

When I started here 7 years ago, the library director reported to the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  She now reports to the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

We had major turnover in administration over the summer with our President, Dean of Academic Affairs and Dean of Career and Technical Education (CTE) either resigning or retiring.  They didn’t replace the CTE dean’s position.  Rather, they placed everyone and everything associated with that position under the Academic Affairs dean, again.

Sometimes the changes in reporting structure happened because of a promotion or reassignment.  At other times, the library was assigned under an academic or IT unit, which posed its own challenges:

Our library does not have its own dean or director.  Ours was the dean of Instructional Resources (IR) who reported to the Vice President of Academic Affairs.  At one point, our dean was promoted to Vice President of Student Services, and IR was obliged to follow her and be placed under a dean there.  Soon, IR was moved back to Academic Affairs and then went through a succession of deans that saw us connected to Visual and Performing Arts, and eventually Language Arts.

I report to the Associate Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS).   HSS falls under the instructional/academic affairs side of the organization.  This reporting structure proves challenging on a couple of fronts.  I don’t always get information that I need to move this library forward.  I also don’t have the clout that goes with reporting directly to a vice president or administrator.   On the upside, I have the autonomy to manage my staff and resources (provided it doesn’t involve too much money).

At my college, the Library Coordinator answers to the Dean of Academic Technology and Learning Support (ATLS), who also oversees Distance Education (Online Learning), Testing, and Tutoring.  Theoretically, this is a natural alliance of units, with the possible exception of Testing.

My library is an outlier. We report to the Dean of Institutional Research and Planning. The history behind this is that our dean used to be head of IT. When he made the switch to Institutional Research and Planning, the library went with him. Talk about being off the grid! The upside is that the library is fairly autonomous. The down side is that the library has fallen off the scope of the academic side of the college

I report to the Dean of Academic Affairs along with the faculty department heads and other academic directors (Outreach, Assessment, Academic Achievement, etc.).  My current dean used to be our assessment director, so he’s a numbers guy, which means he reads and follows my reports. He’s also very pro-library, believing that the library has an important role in student success, so I lucked out in that area (it doesn’t hurt that he’s married to a librarian).

In conclusion, most of the respondents recommended reporting to Academic Affairs, mainly for the following reasons:

It is much easier to make the case for why the library is important to education and information literacy when you have access to academic administration.

Libraries need to work with classroom faculty, which is harder to do when you are in student services.

As a major contributor to teaching and learning, the library belongs under Academic Affairs.  The learning outcomes in library instruction (and reference) should be aligned with larger institutional goals, such as general education goals/competencies, in order to maximize the impact of those services on student learning.  This alignment has the potential to mean the most for administrators in Academic Affairs.  When the library falls under Student Affairs, operational outcomes may be prioritized over learning outcomes.

It’s where the action is and you want to be in the thick of it, good or bad.

What has your experience been with reporting to Academic Affairs or Student Services?  Please share in the comments!

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From the CJCLS Listserv: Open Educational Resources

Open Access Week 2015

By Kristy Padron

With the end of Open Access Week, the cjc-l listserv had recent discussions regarding librarian involvement in Open Educational Resources (OER). One member noticed that libraries were not included in his state’s OER report:

I just finished scanning Opening Public Institutions: OER in North Dakota in the Nation, 2015 and can’t find any mention of librarians. Librarians need to be assertive and have a place in discussions regarding OERS on our campuses, by state legislators, and in other settings.

Some members of the listserv described the OER initiatives taking place in their institutions and regions:

Librarians are very active on The Community College Consortium for Open Education (CCCOER) for sure! Over 250 colleges participate in this consortium.

Librarians have been leading the way for OER initiatives at my institution. At Lansing Community College, we hosted the successful Open Educational Resources Summit last September with the movers and shakers of the open education movement as our speaker. I led the effort in implementing our OER strategy on campus including the creation of an OER LibGuide. We’re still at the early stage but it is very encouraging. I’m also very active in the CCCOER and I’m part of the Advisory Group.

The project Openstax College has specifically targeted libraries as a partner.

We’re trying here in Florida. See the exciting theme for our fall meeting of the Florida Association of College & Research Libraries (FACRL).

An international conference will soon be held in Vancouver in November, which some librarians said they would attend:

The 12th Annual Open Education Conference will have numerous examples of how librarians and libraries are leading the way in discover, adoption, use and assessment of OERs.

What are some OER activities taking place at your library or in your area? Feel free to share in your comments!

(Image Source:  International Open Access Week 2015, used with permission from Creative Commons Attribution License.)

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From the CJCLS Listserv: Library Facebook Accounts

By Kristy Padron

Original Message:

Does your library has a Facebook page? If so:

  • How many of you are involved in updating / posting?
  • How has it been received?
  • What types of information do you post?
  • How often do you post?
  • Does the library have full control of the account or is it overseen by someone else at the college?

Replies:

How many of you are involved in updating / posting?

  • Just 1 person (multiple responses).
  • 1 person out of our staff of 3
  • 2 people.
  • Three of us (one librarian and two support staff).
  • 3+:  myself, technical assistant, educational resource specialist, and sometimes work study student.
  • 3 out of our 4-person staff (the director, a library assistant and me).  I do 99% of the postings.