Documenting the Future (& Past)

As of yesterday, I have exactly one month before I leave Merced College, and I have started preparing for the new librarian who will be making the Los Banos Campus Library his or her new work home. (Here is the job ad for the position I am leaving, by the way.)

Last summer, Meredith Farkas’ American Libraries column was about what to do to ensure your projects continue after you’ve left a position, “Future-Proof Your Project.” Documentation is so important when leaving a job. When I got my position, documentation wasn’t necessary because my predecessor (and librarian mentor) was switching to the other campus, so I could easily call to ask questions. I have been working on a Word document that is simply a list of things to know: a little library history, accounts to get set up (LibGuides, Text-a-Librarian, Sirsi Workflows, etc.), collection needs and procedures, things I worked on and things I still wanted to do, etc. I also have a message about how important it is for him or her to make the library his or her own; I have my strengths, and the new person will have other strengths. I also included my personal email and cell phone number. I have nine single-spaced pages so far.

I added the librarians at the other campus as co-owners to all of my LibGuides, so they can share those with the new librarian. I got rid of paper and digital files the new librarian won’t need and re-organized the file drawers.  Our campus has a shared drive, so I am updating the Library folder in there, too, with various folders for electronic copies of handouts, important forms, instruction calendars, and other things I mention in the Word document I am writing up.

I switched all my listserv subscriptions to my Gmail, started forwarding a few emails, and boxed up the things to take home, including a binder full of flyers I made over the last few years for displays, events, and contests.

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I also started cleaning out my office.

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Doing these things has also helped me realize that I was able to accomplish some good things in the three years I was full-time in Los Banos. Ultimately, I am glad I was able to be an energizing force on our small campus. Their librarian wasn’t a shushing, stern type. I was able to make small steps to get a more user-centered space. Culture is the hardest thing to shape, but I made progress. I was able to have some fun displays, contests, and activities, including Game Nights. Through these and other communication efforts, the faculty and student groups began to see and use the library as a campus hub. Our student government even had a campus suggestion box in the Library at one point. And let’s not forget about the food pantry! I feel great that the faculty and staff knew they could count on the Library to help, in both instructional and non-instructional efforts. I was able to build solid relationships in our campus community.

And the students knew they could count on me, too. To quote one of the student comments on my evaluation this year, “Definitely not the crusty old librarian stereotype.” I feel really good about that.

December 2015 & January 2016 Library Displays

The last day of the fall semester was December 18th, and the spring semester started on January 19th, the day after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.

I don’t really have a whole lot of time in December as students are hurriedly finishing final papers. Our library media technician pulled some winter and holiday items out for a quick display, which always stresses me because we don’t have a whole lot of variety when it comes to holidays. I always forget to have the main library order me some children’s titles about Hannukah, Kwanzaa, and Ramadan, and I vow to ask by the end of today. We have a part-time child development instructor at our site, so we have a small children’s collection specifically for an assignment involving multiculturalism. As someone who worked as a bilingual (Spanish/English) library assistant in the children’s department at a public library, I desperately need to make this a priority before embarking on the next chapter in my library career (more on that soon). Because of those changes, my display game this term will be even simpler. I decided to forgo linking the titles in Smore and will just be posting photos.

Sure enough, I didn’t even have time to link the titles I used for the refugee display I had in December anyway. I was really pleased–people checked items out!

Refugees

For the latter half of January, I had some Martin Luther King, Jr. books out, and I also highlighted some of our biographies (I did a little cleaning in this section, and I think I am done for now) about survival, failure, and success.

MLK

Survival

 

November 2015 Library Displays

So it’s February, but here are the displays I had up in November.

I love highlighting Native American Heritage Month. This year, I focused on items that relate to California and CA’s Central Valley.

Native American Heritage Month

Although I am Mexican-American, Día de los Muertos is not something my family does, mostly because my mom’s side is not Catholic. I really enjoy how much interest develops around the display. Here’s the online display, which I especially like. I re-used last year’s Día de los Muertos sign. One of the evening librarians made the tissue paper flowers during Hispanic Heritage Month, so I re-used a few.

Dia de los Muertos

For Veterans Day, the library media bookstore technician (she is now full-time–the first full-time staff position our little library has ever had!) re-used a banner we had last year for people to honor those who have served in the military. It’s blue butcher paper with white stars attached. People are encouraged to write in a veteran’s name with markers i leave on the windowsill. We put the banner in the hallway outside the library. The technician also put together the display we had inside the library. She also advertised the city’s second annual Veterans Day parade.

Veterans Day

I had one Major Idea display about criminal justice (you can read more about this display series in my August 2015 Library Displays post). I stopped doing this series in November because the space I was using is where I moved our children’s and young adult section. Our history section is out of control, and it was getting way too full, so I moved things around to create room before tackling the 900s this semester.

Criminal Justice

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.

Art + Library = Fun(draising)

Mod Shop

Small Business Saturday is coming up this Saturday, November 28th, and my city puts on a fantastic event downtown that I am always excited about–The Mod Shop: Indie Crafters Market! The stores downtown open their spaces for local artists and artisans to sell their artwork and wares. Here is some history from the local paper.

This year, my sister and sister-in-law will be joining forces to sell cup cozies and purses. Last year, my friend Angela sold stationary (she doesn’t sell anymore, otherwise, I’d post the link to her Etsy shop). Last year and again this year, fellow librarian–and now published poet–Stella Beratlis and our town’s former poet laureate Gillian Wegener will be typing up poems on the spot.

The event always reminds me of a great fundraiser the Friends of the Los Banos (public) Library put on every October–the Small Works of Art Sale. Here is an article about this year’s event from Los Banos’ local paper. Since I began working in Los Banos as the town’s college librarian, I help sell tickets and man tables during the event to show my support. Essentially, the Library closes a little early, so local artists and artisans can show off and sell art and wares, the proceeds of which go to the Friends. There is also wine and delicious goodies. Tickets are just $20 a piece. It’s so great to see members of the community all come together to hang out, buy art, and support their local library.

Textured Forest Painting

This year, I manned a table of succulents in handcrafted chic concrete pots and some modern wall hangings by United by Form. These were the only wares and artworks not created by someone local, but the artist is a friend of the daughter of one of the Friends’ members. I have a profound love for succulents, so I bought a couple for myself.

United by Form Business Card

Succulent on Block of Wood

Succulents in Concrete and Copper

Wall Hangings

What kind of fundraisers does your library’s Friends’ group do? The Friends of the Los Banos Library also do a Used Book Sale every fall and spring, which I know are popular among many public library Friends’ groups. Is a small works of art sale something you think would work well for your local Friends? Let me know if your Friends’ group decides to put one on.

October 2015 Library Displays

In October, I had two Major Idea displays (see the August 2015 Library Displays post to learn more about what this is), one about math and another about English, which focused on fairy tales as a theme to explore literature studies.

English

Mathematics

October 15th was also the end of Hispanic Heritage Month. See the September 2015 Library Displays post about it here..

I also put together a quick display for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which included directions for conducting a breast self-exam in both English and Spanish. I snagged up the instructions during an event our campus had last year that had booths from the community, including the local health center.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

One of our part-time evening librarians put together our Halloween display this year, for which I am very grateful. Here’s the online flyer I made for her display. Since I have more people to rely on in the library and now know what can be delegated, it’s been fun to see others’ creativity.

Halloween

October is always the beginning of research paper season around here, so it’s been busy! I’ll have to share more about that soon.