Committee Work: Blogs and Bibliographies

Faculty members do a lot of committee work for their colleges.  Over the summer, I served on a hiring committee for three positions. This year, I will be once again serving on the Student Success and Support Program Advisory Committee, Institutional Review Board, Student of the Month, and faculty union as a representative for my campus.  My newest committee is serving as the Learning Resource Center’s Academic Senate representative. I also serve on various short-term assignments throughout the year. The faculty lead usually asks me about short-term committees rather than long-term ones because she knows that when I am at a meeting it means I am away from the research help desk, and I don’t have back-up.

However, it is also important for me to serve on committees for professional library associations. I am once again serving of the Association for College and Research Libraries’ (ACRL’s) Community and Junior College Libraries Section’s (CJCLS’) Membership and Communications committee. This year, I will be contributing to the new CJCLS blog! I will be responsible for maintaining a bibliography of scholarship written in the last five years by community and junior college librarians. A call just went out on the CJCLS listserv and on the Community and Junior College Librarians Facebook group. I can’t wait to start receiving citations!

I am also serving as secretary of ACRL’s Instruction Section’s (IS’) Instruction for Diverse Populations committee. We’re responsible for the Library Instruction for Diverse Populations Bibliography.  I will be revising, maintaining, and adding scholarship to the Native American Students and Nontraditional Students sections. I am very excited about this work since I am one of the only community college librarians on this committee. It has also been a long time since I have done this kind of literature review work, so I am thankful to get my feet wet again with an established project.

I am continuing my involvement with ACRL’s Library Marketing and Outreach interest group. I tried to get something going here in the Central Valley last year, but for one reason or another, it didn’t take. I need to give it some more thought as far as trying to establish something here, but it may just be that I join the Northern California team. I get so much inspiration from LMO’s Facebook group. The support and energy there has been great. They even inspired me to submit my DIY work to, and I have always been shy about these kinds of things. (I’ll have more news on this front in another post…)

I promise I am not overdoing it, but I also will be contributing to the Two Year Talk blog.

This is going to be an eventful year! I’m excited to stretch my wings a little more.

Startup Communications

I just really love the honesty in Meredith Farkas’ latest column in American Libraries. In talking about pitching an idea that didn’t take and then one that was a good fit, she reminds shiny new librarians (that means ME!): “The problem wasn’t [XYZ]; it was trying to solve problems that didn’t exist” (Farkas, 2015).

I have always been an ideas person. and I get really excited about all the library things, but the things I do have got to fit our community. I have let projects go because they don’t work, but that’s the nature of this thing–you have to keep figuring it out until you get a sense of what will work at your library. It takes time. (You have to think like a startup.)

For example, last year, to keep the library on the radar, besides my monthly email update, I was also doing a weekly feature called Tech Tuesday where I would share three apps, websites, or other technology tool. It was really time-consuming, and I never really heard back from anyone, so I stopped after a couple of months. What purpose was it serving? Was it just to keep people reminded about the Library in a non-traditional-to-them way? I realized right then that it was pointless to do this. As faculty, we are inundated with emails–committee updates, college advertisements, listservs, etc. I was just adding to the information overload problem and making myself frustrated.

Fast forward to this year. What I did for faculty and staff at the beginning of the semester (about 3 weeks in) was one big online newsletter using Smore. It was bright and colorful, and it had a hilarious video about books that parodied Mark Ronson’s/Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.” I got great feedback! Our small campus also has an email newsletter called Tuesday Tidbits (it used to be called the Monday Memo) where faculty submit updates for committees on which they serve as our campus’ representatives and other relevant campus news. Our faculty lead puts it together. Since more people read that, after I did my initial newsletter and email introduction, I started supplying updates on a weekly basis to Tidbits. In my first update this semester, I also resubmitted the link to my initial online newsletter for those who may have missed it. It seems to be going a lot better doing it this way!

Our college recently started a distance education newsletter for updates related to online education. The distance education coordinator, who is also a history professor, recently asked for people to send ideas they may have for the newsletter. Since I am really into DIY visual content, I asked her if she thought a resource list for online presentation and infographic-making tools might be of value (obviously, this also has value for web-enhanced classes). I didn’t want to start off with “this is what the Library can do for you, etc.” Plus, since this is for the whole district, it’s probably not appropriate for me to do anything like that without talking to my colleagues or our temporary director! I actually would really love to write on the behalf of the Library, but my hope is that maybe the list will show that we should be writing something, perhaps on a rotational basis?

Anyway, the DE coordinator agreed! I submitted my draft last night. Distance education is the hot thing in our college district, so I suspect this might be a great place to spread the word about online library services and librarian expertise. I am hoping this can help solve our district-wide library faculty-instructional faculty communication (image?) problem. We actually do a lot of face-to-face advocating, but since there are only four of us, we only can go so far.


Ever since I heard about libraries in New York City and Kansas City that lend Wi-Fi hotspots, it’s been my dream to offer that to students at our small rural campus library. The September 2015 issue of American Libraries featured a two-page article about it, which reminded me about the project. You can read the article here.

However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves–I just got the funding for our tablet program, and it’s going to be quite a project. I will be working really hard with our dean, ITS at the main campus (we don’t have an actual IT person at our campus), and staff and student workers to roll it out by the beginning of the Spring 2016 term. I want to get through one term with the program in order to assess it. If it’s successful, then I feel like we can try to offer a new thing.

I know of one another college librarian on a listserv who has asked about college libraries doing this, particularly for commuter rural campuses. I got in touch with her, and she hasn’t heard from anyone yet.

I was really surprised to read that in Kansas City, MO, 70 percent of kids don’t have broadband Internet access at home (Inkleberger, 2015). The number is striking because, nationally, according to the Pew Research Center, 30 percent of households don’t have broadband access (Zickuhr, 2013). I was already planning a study of Internet access and technology devices for our small campus, and it seems even crucial that I get started because while I know a lot of our students don’t have reliable access at home, I’m not sure of the actual number. That figure is going to shape a lot of my plans and also give me the information I need to make a case for funding. I will definitely be getting in contact with our Office of Grants and Institutional Research. I happen to be a member of my college’s Institutional Review Board, so it helps that I have actually reviewed proposals.

Honestly, I have a really cool job. It’s a challenging one, but a really cool one. I feel like I am making good efforts to solve problems and help students on their educational journey.

LexisNexis Academic Webinars

This year, I am making good on my goal to actually watch webinars when they happen and/or watching the archived recording during the same week (or at least month!) I receive access to it. I have a few saved from last fall and spring semesters that I need to watch.

I participated in LexisNexis webinars at the end of August, and while I do use LexisNexis at the community college and at the university, I don’t use it a whole lot. Here are my notes for each of the webinars.

LexisNexis Academic News

  • LexisNexis Academic News has 17,000 sources.
  • LN also has broadcast transcripts and transcripts from news shows, like 60 Minutes.
  • LN also has speeches, both the transcripts as prepared, as well as transcripts as delivered (the online trainer said that President Bill Clinton was famous for straying from the prepared speech).
  • LN also has a feature that opens web news from 300 web sources.
  • Coverage varies by the source and updates also vary by source. For example, full-text NYT articles date back to 1980 and content is updated daily). The lesson here is to use the information button next to the source name for the details.
  • A note about full-text: While the articles available in the database are full-text, not all articles from a particular source may be included in the database. I knew this, but I didn’t exactly know why. One reason is that freelance articles are owned by the journalist, not the publication, so journalists can elect to have their content removed from the databases.
  • LN will find the singular, plural, and possessive forms of words in searches.
  • LN will also find equivalents, not to be confused with synonyms. For example, if you type 1st Amendment, LN will also find First Amendment. This is a really good tip when it comes to numbers in this context. A search for GOP will also bring up all versions of Republican Party.
  • Librarians love field searching. I hadn’t fully explored all the search possibilities, so searching by length was new for me. What I love about this is that it might be helpful for lower level English courses. (This kind of searching reminds me of Dialog, and I was obsessed with it. I was in library school between 2010 and 2011, and even we used Dialog. Headline searching FTW

LexisNexis Legal Research

  • I don’t think I have learned this much from one webinar before. I don’t get too many legal reference questions, but I can tell you that it’s not my strong suit. I always used LN with some trepidation, and while the students and I could find the relevant cases, I knew that I needed to know more about the legal research side in LN to get the most out of it.
  • For legal cases, you can search by citation, party, or topic.
    • Citation: You have to use the exact Blue Book citation, including the periods. The citations are composed of three parts: the first number refers to volume, the second set of letters is an abbreviation for the book or reporter, and the third number refers to the page.
    • Party: You don’t have to enter both party names, and they don’t have to be in the right order. LN will do the search. Just be aware that when doing a party name search, LN will go through short party names, as well as the full list of parties involved, which could be numerous. For example, a search for Jones v. Clinton will also pull results for completely different cases whose short party name does not have either Jones or Clinton. I used to wonder why results like this pop up, but the online trainer said that when LN does the search, it pulls matches from the full list of parties, not just the short party name. Party search looks for matches in the full list.
    • Topic: This isn’t natural searching. This search will look in the headnotes section for matches. Think of headnotes like subject searching/breadcrumbs in the legal world. Here’s how headnotes are super nifty. They tell you all the subjects/topics covered by a particular case. For example, if you look up the headnotes for Roe v. Wade, you can find that other issues besides a woman’s right to choose were involved.
  • The reason why a million things pop up when you do a party search for Supreme Court cases—everything related to a Supreme Court case gets published. This is why you get a lot of hits looking up one case.
  • LN has a handy Landmark Cases feature, which you can find near the big “search everything related to LN” search box. There is a button to the right of the large search box that says “Search by Content Type,” where you can find the Landmark Cases feature. Cases are organized by topic. This is such a useful tool for the kinds of material two-year college students need for their coursework.
  • Also under the legal section under the “Search by Content Type” button is a way to search for federal and state cases. For most student research, the online trainer says it’s best to stick to one’s jurisdiction when searching. In the Federal and State Cases Search, head to the advanced search settings. There is an option to select the specific circuit, such as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as state, such as California.
  • One of my favorite parts of the webinar was a question the online trainer posed, emulating a reference question that is probably common, “What are all the [insert your topic] laws in California?” The easiest way is to go to the ““Search by Content Type” button,” go to the Legal heading, and then select “State Statutes and Regulations.” Under the advanced options, check box statutory code and then the state. Yay for codified law!
  • LN does not have cases related to those at the state trial level. This is because the verdict only affects the parties involved in the case. The decision does not do anything to an entire state or the nation. For these kind of cases, especially for a local issue of interest, newspaper articles are the best bet for research.
  • LN has a legal reference section! Find the “Search by Content Type” button, go to the Legal heading, and then select “Legal Reference.” Under the advanced options, you’ll find American Jurisprudence 2d, Ballentine’s Law Dictionary, Bieber’s Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations, and the Modern Dictionary for the Legal Profession.
  • At this point in the webinar, I had to talk to a faculty member, so I missed the introduction to Sheppard’s. It’s a nifty citation tool that allows you see if a case has been overturned, reaffirmed, questioned, or cited by other cases.

Exciting News!

I have some really exciting news!

I just found out that my request for 36 Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablets for my small library was funded, at 33 percent of the request, through Merced College’s student equity funds! $16,000! The dean of my campus, the Los Banos Campus, says the rest of the amount will be funded with other monies.

Why Microsoft Surface Pro 3? They are the district-approved tablets. Why 36? There is a really cool charging cart that fits 36 tablets.

The library at my campus doesn’t have a library instruction room like the other campus, and I often have to fit sessions around the computer labs that are scheduled for other classes. Often, I go to classrooms without any computers, so students don’t get to play with databases during library research sessions.

When the tablets aren’t in use for classes, students will be able to check them out to use in the library. We only have 17 computers available in the library for 1,800 students, and our statistics were around 18,000 computer uses for 2014-2015. This does not include statistics for the open computer lab across the hall.

The Student Equity committee for the college created a document of goals for both campuses, so part of the application for funding had to show how the proposed project helped meet those goals. I also incorporated how the project met the college’s strategic plan and institutional learning outcomes and how it fit with the goals of the Learning Resource Center’s program review and student learning outcomes. I think my request was also funded, in part, because it serves an instructional purpose. I included a lot of evidence in the document, and my dean was impressed with what I put together.

I have been on pins and needles waiting for a response from the committee. I am so pleased! If we go off of the timeline I created for the project, we will begin our tablet service in Spring 2016.

The start of my third full-time academic year has been fantastic! My three-year review process also begins this coming Tuesday, so I am feeling pretty good.

Participatory Culture & Vernacular Collections at the Library

I have a bad habit of collecting links through the save feature on Facebook. However, I seem to notice a penchant for public art. Consider this Colossal post about an artist who bought billboard and this NPR article about kids’ art taking over billboards in Times Square. I love members of communities being able to take part in their communities. Participatory culture is something I have been trying to cultivate in the community college library.

In Fall 2013, I did half of the Hyperlinked Library MOOC through San José State University, my MLIS alma mater. It allowed me to explore a little more about user experience, and it really got my excited about the possibilities for participatory culture in libraries. In one class discussion, I shared about the display space kids in the community are able to use to display collections of all kinds in the children’s department of the Stanislaus County Library (I worked as a bilingual Spanish/English library assistant in the children’s department for a couple of years). Kids ages 4 and up can sign up for either a display table or display case to show off rocks, soap, dolls, books, trains, cars, PEZ dispensers, LEGO creations, etc. The collections were very unique and customers of all ages love looking at new arrrivals. The collections stay in a locked case or table for two weeks. It truly is one of the coolest things that allow kids in our community to really feel that the library is theirs. (As it turns out, the idea of displaying everyday items is a thing. I did a little research, and these are called vernacular museums. I have to do a little more reading about them, but I did contact a professor from Pine Manor College about her work last year.)

I also think this idea would work well in even an academic library if locked displays cases are available. The University Library at my undergraduate alma mater, California State University Stanislaus, sort of has this with their Warrior Book Contest, which is essentially a topical bibliography students can submit. Winners can have some of their books put on display, and it’s always really interesting to see the winners’ lists and displays. I have a friend from college who won one year. I have tried a similar tactic to have individual students sign up to do book and online resource displays at the community college library, but it hasn’t worked out so far. We only have one student club on campus, so I am going to check with them this semester. But the idea of displaying collections doesn’t have to just be books and online resources. It could be action figures or Hello Kitty memorabilia. College can be fun.


I am obsessed with Smore. Smore is a fast way to make flyers and newsletters online. Last year, I started using Smore for our new book lists. (In the pre-Lindsay years, the library media technician and clerks sent out a typed list of titles in email–attached as a Word document. In my first year, I started sending out monthly email updates that included the hyperlinked titles of new books.) Recently, someone asked about newsletters on a library listserv, and I was able to share a book list as an example. I got some nice feedback on the one I shared there, which inspired me to do a library newsletter beyond book titles.

I didn’t do one before because every Tuesday, the faculty lead at our small campus sends out a newsletters called Tuesday Tidbits (it used to be the Monday Memo) in which different faculty members submit committee updates and other news. This first month, I had so much to update, I decided to do one giant newsletter rather than submit to Tuesday Tidbits. Now that I sent an initial newsletter, I probably will do the Tidbits route more often than our own newsletter.

In my last post about displays, I also talked about the new series I am doing called Major Idea. I post our displays to Facebook (Instagram is my next frontier) and in the faculty emails I send out,  but I also decided to put the materials I put on display in a hyperlinked list via Smore, sort of like a pathfinder. My giant library newsletter also links to the display materials lists for the Major Idea displays for psychology and art history and our Women’s Equality Day and water and drought displays.

I was pretty thrilled by the feedback I got from our newsletter. What I love about Smore is that it allows you to see how many views you get, too. Smore only allows you to make five flyers so free, but the educator account is just $60 a year. It is so worth it!