Food Pantries in Community College Libraries

I have been under the weather since before the New Year (a cold, then a sinus infection, and now bronchitis), so I have been a little neglectful lately, but I think tonight’s post will make up for it. I’m excited, anyway.

The campus I work for is right outside the small city’s limits, serving the western side of Merced County, a county known for low levels of education, which is typical of the Central Valley in general. The campus had a headcount of 1,800 students this past fall at census. One quarter of our students are part-time students. Many are parents. We don’t have food service, and we have a very small library, small tutoring center, and small student lounge. We have 19 full-time faculty: 5 English instructors, 4 math instructors, 3 science instructors, 3 counselors, 1 psychology/sociology instructor, 1 history/political science instructor, 1 communications instructor, and 1 librarian (me).

The beauty of working at the smaller campus of a community college is that small teams can often get quicker results and be a little more innovative due to a lack of resources. Because we are so small, we work together quite often and are always thinking of ways to meet our students needs, needs that are not always academic in nature but that certainly affect their ability to stay in school. This past fall, some of the women faculty members got together at an area restaurant before a faculty meeting as a way to begin to get to know our new biology instructor. At the lunch, the chemistry instructor brought up the idea of creating a small food pantry for students in need but wanted ideas for how to make it private and where it should be located. I saw my opportunity.

Our small library has a back workroom. We keep some old periodicals and supplies in there, and it is also our break area with a fridge and table. We also keep off-season textbook reserves in there. When our part-time library media technician retired this past May, I was finally able to throw things out and work with our new full-time technician, formerly our part-time clerk, to get organized and clear the mess. It’s still wasn’t perfect at the time I made this suggestion, but I immediately mentioned to our chemistry professor that we were making room. They could use a small part of our workroom shelving to house a food pantry. Of the two buildings on campus, we are the area that is opened the longest (the front office closes at 4:30 pm on Monday-Friday, and we stay open until 8 pm Monday-Thursday and until 3 on Friday, though our technician doesn’t really leave until 4 pm on Friday), and no unauthorized people can get to the workroom. The idea is that students in need, with their student I.D., can go to any staff or faculty member or administrator, and be walked to the library workroom to get food.

We got permission from our campus dean, and while we haven’t worked out all the logistics quite yet, we decided not to advertise that it is in the library because we want it to be a little more discreet. I didn’t make the graphic for the posters we’re putting up around campus, but they are absolutely fine and will get the job done. I’ll be displaying the information inside and outside the library, and the counselors are also on board.

Interestingly, over the winter break, both The Atlantic and Inside Higher Ed shared posts about student hunger on community college campuses. It rings so true with our student population.

I am proud to introduce the beginning of our campus’ food pantry. Our chemistry instructor stocked us up with some non-perishables during the first week of the spring semester. 12615148_10156408358120573_604629448180132362_o

Small campuses with small libraries with caring faculty can make a world of difference. I am a regular financial giver to area food pantries, and I can’t believe this idea never occurred to me before. I am so thankful for our faculty and the enormous amount of nontraditional collaboration I have been able to do here.

Does your community college, college, or university have a food pantry? How are your faculty involved? How is your library or library faculty and/or library staff involved? Let me know!

UC Merced, which is the closest university to the larger community college campus, has one, and I believe I read somewhere that our community college students who live in Merced can also access it. I would love to do a little research on this topic in our area.

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Copyright and Fair Use & OA and OER

The one thing I did not do in library graduate school was to spend a lot of dedicated time on copyright and other related issues. I’m definitely feeling the crunch, particularly in light of the open access (OA) and open educational resources (OER) movements in higher education. Over the summer, I was very impressed with the University of  Maryland University College‘s move to open digital resources for undergraduate education. Here is Barbara Fister’s overview of recent developments in OA during Open Access Week this past fall. Adding to the recent developments in OA that Fister lists, just today I read that the Oberlin Group, with the backing of liberal arts colleges, launched Lever Press.

In the CJCLS listserv this fall, someone posted the following report, “Opening Public Institutions: OER in North Dakota and the Nation, 2015,” and asked where all the community college librarians were in helping to lead OA/OER on their campuses. Here are some resources some people shared from that listserv, as well as some resources from a question about open textbooks from the ILI listserv:

Affordable Learning Georgia

College Open Textbooks

Lansing Community College’s OER Summit

Lansing Community College’s OER LibGuide

Northwestern Michigan College OER LibGuide 

Open Textbook Library

University of Maryland University College OER LibGuide

OA and OER are subjects I follow, but not to the degree I would like. One of the challenges is that our community college is not part of the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources, but according to the website “[i]ndividuals, whether they represent Consortium members or not, are welcome to use and modify materials and resources found on this website, and to participate in webinars and other Consortium activities.” I just got added to the CCCOER Advisory Google Group, so I hope to gain more knowledge. They also have a YouTube channel. I suspect that with the push for distance education in our college district, and some of the buzz that was generated by a student leader about open textbooks to the Academic Senate, we will become more involved. As the newer librarian two years away from tenure, it’s difficult to broach these subjects, but I am preparing. In fact, I took an online “how to teach an online” class this past fall with other faculty members more to see what the faculty were saying regarding content for courses, etc. There is a need for OER there.

Someone also pointed me to SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.

Here are some relevant conferences. The 12th Annual Open Education Conference was in Vancouver this past November, so I plan to take a gander at the website for #OpenEd2015. I was really bummed that San Jose State University’s one-day Open Access Conference 2015 was during a planned mini vacation. I will be on the lookout for this year’s conference dates.

I definitely also need to carve out time to watch the Blended Librarian recorded webcast On Becoming Open Education Leaders. Librarians really are in the fantastic position to lead the movement, and there are some college’s that have specific OER/OA librarians. How neat!

(As I was finishing up this post, someone posted about Project CORA, Community of Online Research Assignments: An Open Access Resource for Faculty and Librarians. I am so excited! This “library” will really enhance my information literacy instruction work!)

Another thing I have been meaning to do over the winter break is to start the the Coursera course Copyright for Educators and Librarians (librarians are educators, but okay). I still have time to begin  before I go back to work, though.

I sense a theme among some of the links I’ve been collecting over the last few months, as well.

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video 

Digital Media Law Project’s Fair Use webpage

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society and Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL)‘s Copyright for Librarians

I also find BYU’s Copyright 101 modules to be helpful. The videos don’t really look modern, but they now have captions!

Napa: Eats, Antiques, & Library Tourism

In October, my husband and I went on a romantic getaway to Napa. Neither of us had ever been to Napa, and we only live two hours away. I don’t know why we hadn’t done it before. While there, we saw traces of the damage the earthquake had done in August 2014, but we saw a community that was vibrant and confident.

Our hotel had a homemade chocolate chip cookie hour at 6 pm. Yum!

I really enjoyed the plant life. I don’t have a super green thumb, but I do appreciate nature and am okay with low-maintenance plants.

We ate at Celadon and at The Pear Southern Bistro, checked out the Riverfront, watched an Americana show, and got our antiquing fix at Antiques on Second where we picked up a theater-style bench for our front door area, a corduroy blazer for me, and a couple of vintage necklaces. We also made a quick stop to the Oxbow Public Market. I picked up some cranberry and white polka-dot (I am really into polka-dots) Keds at a chain department store when my feet were giving out from the flats and boots I brought with me.

We also went to Napa Bookmine.

I also, unexpectedly, came across a September 11th Memorial. I noticed a structure of some kind outside a store, and I didn’t realize what it was until I got close to the sign. I was looking at beams from the World Trade Center.

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We made an impromptu trip to the Napa County Library, and I was not let down. What a gorgeous, modern library! Study rooms for days, different seating arrangements, lovely signage, and it was busy! People reading, people browsing, and people finishing up activities from the first annual How-To Festival. The staff were above and beyond amazing! I introduced myself and one of the staff members (I am so sad that I can’t remember her name anymore; I meant to send an email about the spectacular customer service we received) showed me a project they did involving a succulent planter made out of a book. I love succulents, so I was very into this! She also gave me a book art example that she had made for the book art activity from earlier that day. You rock, Napa County Library!

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We had a really great trip! We did an epic Souhtwest adventure this past summer, so this getaway was just perfect. Short and sweet! We actually used the photo below for our Christmas cards this year. At the library, where else?

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Book Management: Weeding

Libraries sometimes get a lot of negative beef when it comes to getting rid of books. This isn’t done haphazardly. It’s part of our jobs to make room for newer materials and changing tastes based on demographics. In the case of a small community college campus, some years, it seems like all the writing courses are focused on food politics. Other semesters, the hot topic is social media, terrorism, gangs, etc. Materials also become out of date. Every time I get a new copy of one of those Opposing Viewpoints books, I send back the oldest version to the main library to be discarded.

Libraries don’t have  infinite room. Just like a closet, you need to clean out libraries to make room for classics, items that actually get used, items that are up to date, and new items. In libraries, we call this weeding. (The featured image on top includes a photo of books that were on our shelves that had seen better days.)

Collection management, I have learned, is not my favorite part of my job as a campus librarian. It’s a lot of work, and I don’t really have the right training to run reports on our integrated library system (ILS) to actually check when items were last checked out; I key in every book individually without a scanner (I need to ask the campus dean if we can buy  one) to find out those statistics.

This year, to help me in the weeding process, I created weeding slips.

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They are based on the slips used by librarians at California State University Stanislaus, my undergraduate alma mater. (In addition to my full-time job, I also work at CSU Stanislaus one or two Sundays a month during the academic year.) The slips come in handy because I can fill out all the necessary criteria I need in order to send books to the main library for possible deselection. The librarians at the main library take a look at the notes on the slips, and the collection development officer, the library director (not my boss), makes the final decision. These is also a section on the slip where I indicate whether or not the main library has a copy of what I am sending, which also helps their weeding process. When they weed books, they also check to see if our campus has a copy. It’s been an effective system thus far.

Part of the weeding process also includes inviting faculty in the specific discipline to look over the items for potential weeding. I don’t get a lot traction on that front, so I do a two-week call. If no one comes, I send them on to the main library.

I weeded certain areas this fall, but the true masterpiece was the fiction section. Here is the before and after. I forgot to take a photo of the fiction section before I started weeding, but the photo on top is the biography section, which looks very similar to what fiction looked like before the weeding process. Now imagine both sides of the bookcase looking like the bottom photo. We now have breathing room!

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With the new empty space, my plan is to put just a few books face-out on the shelves, like in bookstores. I do a lot of displays along the outer edge of the library, on our lower reference shelves, and it does encourage some circulation, but I like the idea of displaying books directly on the circulating shelves. I have students who tell me they like to browse when I notice them at the shelves and check to see if the students need help finding something. Because of the browsing behavior, I plan to make some signs in our signature lemon yellow to advertise putting items on hold from the other campus. I also want to advertise the eBook app available through the county library system, as well as let students know that they can put items on hold from across the county library system to pick up at the local library (a lot of them are surprised when I tell them they have access to way more than what is physically available at the local library). I did a hug sign re-haul last year, but I want to experiment with putting a few signs face-out on the shelves.

I also plan to tackle the biography and 900s (geography and history) sections in the spring semester.

Happy Wedding Anniversary!

My husband and I are celebrating seven years of marriage today. Here are some quick facts:

We had the same last name before we got married.

We met on MySpace in March 2007. He found me. We wrote messages back and forth for a couple of weeks, and then we started talking on the phone. We spent four hours on the phone the first time he called.

We met in person on my 21st birthday, April 15, 2007. We went to Starbucks and saw a movie afterward. I kissed him when he walked me to the door at the end of our date.

We got engaged exactly 8 months after meeting in person, December 15, 2007, in Lake Tahoe.

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We got married on January 3, 2009 at our church in CA’s Central Valley.

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Marriage is not always easy, but I am so glad to be experiencing the adventure with Kory.

2016 Reading Resolution

If you’re a librarian, people assume you really, super duper love reading and that that’s all you  do in your spare time. (But that’s not actually why I got into librarianship at all. For me, it’s the research and providing access component.) When I was younger and didn’t have responsibilities, I loved reading. I was a “read a book in a day” kind of person. When I worked in a public library, I also read a lot, but more for work purposes; it’s a good thing I do enjoy YA! I just haven’t been able to get back into the reading groove for several years now. In fact, I sort of have anxiety when it comes to reading for fun–What did I forget to do? I should do those dishes. I should exercise, etc.

I do read a lot of professional literature and library blogs, etc., but not what you traditionally think of reading for pleasure, although I do enjoy the reading I do. I also have about a three-hour commute round-trip (I drive), and while I have done audiobooks, I would rather get my NPR fix during my commute. The segments are shorter, and I do have to concentrate on my drive.

For 2016, I plan to read 12 books. It’s not a high number, and I already have books lined up from both Goodreads and things already on my shelf (including “librarian” books), but it’s a number I feel like I can get through without pressure. I am quite proud that I actually read The Circle during my winter break. It took two days, and I actually finished it on the last day of 2015.

In addition to this, my husband and I will be re-instilling reading together, but because of our schedules, we’re doing it book club style. He is not a big reader, but he has read a few books this last year. I am so proud! I have been sick with a cold all week, and during his days off, we watched the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, so we decided on starting with The Hobbit.

Refocusing Information Literacy Instruction Under the Framework: Changes & Challenges Presentation

In early December,  I gave a 30 minute presentation, Refocusing Information Literacy Instruction Under the Framework: Changes and Challenges, followed by a 20-minute question and answer session. The link opens to a Google Slides presentation. You can find the works I consulted for this on the last two slides. For more information about the threshold concepts, please see:

ACRL. (n.d.). Annotated bibliography of threshold concepts. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/acrl/issues/infolit/teaching/thresholdbib

This is a significant presentation in that it is my first academic presentation on an aspect of librarianship. Sure, I do presentations and teaching sessions for students, presentations on introducing library services to new part-time faculty during orientations, and I have taught with a colleague about Google Drive and Google Tools for back-to-work professional development sessions, but this was different because it was presented to library staff and librarians outside the college where I work.