Women’s March on Washington Archives Project

This post does eventually relate to archives.

I live in California’s Central Valley, just 90 miles away from San Francisco. The Valley is a conservative part of the state. This weekend, I was amazed by our hometown. My husband and I had planned to march in Sacramento, but he got off work very late on Friday, so we opted to go to the march in our own city. The march was sponsored by The Progressive Voice and the Democratic Women’s Club of Stanislaus County. My good friend Joey from Merced joined us with her two teenage daughters, and when we got there, we met with other friends and family members. I did not expect 1,000 people to participate. I did not expect the huge show of support from people in cars as we walked down one of the busiest streets in town. Here is an article from our local paper, “Signs, Chants, Honks, and Cheers Mark Large, Upbeat Women’s March Modesto.”

When I got home from the march, I spent some time looking at photographs people were posting of marchers and their posters. Here are some interesting articles related to posters from marchers and photographs round the world and within the United States.

The Society of American Archivists’ Women Archivists Section is interested in archiving materials, including posters, photographs, and oral histories from the women’s marches. Their project is called the Women’s March on Washington Archives Project. Click here to find the Project’s Facebook group and here for their Twitter account.

I plan to contribute photos. Some friends also gave me their posters. I just have to find out if California has a repository for the physical materials. Please feel free to share about this archival project. This could be a potentially rich source of primary material for those studying about the marches in the future.

Here are some photos I took this weekend.

This Is What a Librarian Looks Like

My Elephant and Piggie dreams have come true!

This is What a Librarian Looks Like

The absolute craziest thing happened yesterday. I found out that I’m on the cover of a book that will be published in May 2017. Sure, the photo is from 2.5 years ago (it will be a 3-year-old photo when it’s published) when I was a little rounder and pre-Invisalign, and the photo is not my personal best…blah blah blah…but it’s pretty darn cool.

In February of 2014, an article on Slate called “This is What a Librarian Looks Like,” which featured photography by Kyle Cassidy, went viral. In June, there was enough money in the Kickstarter campaign to “photograph and interview more than 300 Librarians at the ALA conference in Las Vegas [and] to also fund the stretch goals of creating a series of stock photographs for libraries to use, doing five hours of video interviews, and doing some photography for the new Joan of Dark book on knitting projects for book lovers” (Cassidy, 2014). Read more about the project here: http://kylecassidy.com/librarians/

Back in May 2014, I had just finished up my first year as a tenure track faculty librarian at a community college, and I decided to attend the American Library Annual Conference in Las Vegas that June (I paid for the whole trip out of pocket). I didn’t really intend to participate in the photo taking (I’m shyer and struggle with putting myself out there), but the initial librarians involved were encouraging. I filled out the model release and wrote up a statement answering one of these questions.

1) What are the greatest challenges facing libraries today?
2) What are the most important services that libraries provide?
3) What inspired you to do what you do?
4) What do libraries do that people might not know about?
5) What would happen in your community if all the libraries shut down tomorrow?
6) Why are libraries relevant when the Internet exists?

The thing is, I don’t remember which I answered or what I wrote! I had almost forgotten about this whole project. I suspect that I answered #3. I will find out in May. It may be that not everyone’s statement was included, but being on the cover is cool.

Anyway, my parents who don’t know much about what I actually do are super excited. My sister showed them my Facebook status update (they are not computer users…my mom doesn’t even have a mobile phone). This is what my whole family is getting for Christmas 2017. As I said on Instagram, Amazon, all of those pre-orders are from me. LOL! (P.S. You can pre-order a copy here.)

I’m looking forward to reading what everyone wrote!

National Diversity in Libraries Conference (NDLC) 2016

This was a really great conference, and not just because I went to Universal Studies Hollywood to look at the Harry Potter section of the park when the conference was over. ūüėČ

I’m a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to things like this, so it might not be that exciting for more seasoned folks, but I co-presented a poster for the first time! I am on ACRL’s Instruction Section’s Instruction for Diverse Populations Committee, and during the last year, we have been updating a selected bibliography of resources for inclusive library instruction. A few of us from the committee decided to present a poster on our work to help advertise the bibliography. I met one of my committee colleagues in June at another conference, but it was nice to get to talk with the other group members in person. Working online with this group has been a great experience. This coming year, we’ll be working on the Multilingual Glossary. Click here for the description of our poster.

NDLC Poster

For quick access (the tl;dr version), here are the sessions I attended in a list. The links take you to the descriptions from the program. Below this list, I have included my notes/thoughts for each session. I really need to start doing summaries when they are more fresh in my mind.

Keynote Address

We had the very great honor of hearing a message from Lakota Harden. She spoke a little about her background, including her time at a residential boarding school; her people’s relationship to water; the protests happening against the Dakota pipeline; and unlearning racism and gender discrimination.

Harden took a few questions, as well. Someone asked about preservation and access to items in museums and archives. Harden asked how many of us had visited the National Museum of the American Indian. “How did those things get there?” Talk about living in a post-colonial world view. I didn’t grow up going to museums, so I have always thought of these these places as “fancy”rather than as places that serve to make a spectacle of native culture for the enjoyment of non-native people. But it is true. (Here is Ulali’s song “Museum Cases.”) She explained that when people visit or drive by reservations, they don’t want to see reality and yearn for a romanticized view of Native Americans. This makes me think about the part in Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad where Cora and a few other young black women posed for a museum installation. Harden explained that things were being returned to native populations.

She also spoke about white people’s tendency to “help” as a way to feel better and get an “innocent certificate.” Someone asked how the library community could help native voices. Harden expressed that the act of listening and hearing lifts the weight of the loss of language, devastation, poverty, suicide, alcoholism, and lack of education affecting Native American peoples.¬†Someone else asked about the lack of native representation in children’s literature, and Harden expressed that native communities are dealing with very scary, difficult situations, so it’s not surprising that there is a lack of materials. She asked that we become allies, that we continue to include native voices in our collections and programs, that we go out to meet the native community where they are and listen. “Coming together is a sacred act.”

Identity at Play: Exploring Racial and Identity Theory in Everyday Experiences in Academic Libraries

This panel was slightly different from that described on the program. The focus of the program was on these three questions.

  1. What is identity theory? How do race/ethnicity shape our sense of self?
  2. What does intersectionality mean? How do we unpack it?
  3. How can we apply this framework to our work?

In introducing racial and identity theory, the panelists asked us to think about how identity may play out in the library. Asking for help is simply uncomfortable; it’s a sign of vulnerability. One of the participants shared a story where a student who was not white had waited a really long time to ask a librarian a question related to blackness because she waited for a non-white librarian. I can understand how the student would have been uncomfortable, not just asking for help, but asking for help from someone who may or may not be an ally. The panelists brought up Hall’s chapter in The 21st Century Black Librarian in America (2012), “The Black Body at the Reference Desk: Critical Race Theory and Black Librarianship.” It sounded really familiar, and then I realized I had come across the citation in Hathcock’s article “White Librarianship in Blackface: Diversity Initiatives in LIS” (2015) from In the Library With the Lead Pipe.

In the intersectionality section, the panelists introduced the work of Kimberl√© Crenshaw, who coined the term in 1989. The panelists also pointed to Crenshaw’s Washington Post article from September 2015, “Why Intersectionality Can’t Wait.”

In my notes, I also listed the citations below, but I have no context for why I wrote them down.

Bonnet, J.L., & McAlexander, B. (2013). First impressions and the reference encounter: The influence of affect and clothing on librarian approachability. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 4 (39), 335-346. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2012.11.025

Ortega, A.C., & Ramos, M. (2012). Recruiting and mentoring: Proactive mentoring: Attracting Hispanic American students in information studies. In J.L. Ayala & Salvador GuerenŐÉa (Eds.), Pathways to progress: Issues and advances in Latino librarianship (103-124). Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.

Price (2010)? Why would I write only this? I should use this to show students why taking good notes saves a lot of hair-pulling.

Academic Libraries Spearheading Diversity and Cultural Initiatives on University Campuses

In this lightning round, librarians from four institutions shared what they have been doing on their campuses to support diversity and introducing students to new cultures.

I was very impressed by the programming work at the University of Cincinnati Library. One thing they did was provide students with diversity/inclusion journals at the beginning of the year. These are just composition books, so not at all expensive. During each cultural event or program, the library provided a writing prompt for students to reflect on. The journals were not collected; the intent was to help cultivate a culture of writing. While the librarians shared several wonderful examples of diversity programming and events, there were two that I was very interested in. Around Thanksgiving, the library held an event called Coming Together to Give Thanks. The speakers were students who shared cultural foods, rituals, and traditions from their home countries or ethnic backgrounds. I was also very drawn to the library’s Reading Around the World book club. Click here to find their LibGuide to learn more about it.

At the University of Tennessee Knoxville, there is a campus-wide diversity committee with library representation. I believe there are also campus representatives on the library’s diversity committee. For the last 15 years, the University Libraries have had a three-year diversity residency program. I was very impressed to learn that the library still has a relationship with former residents. The university also has an Office for Diversity and Interculturalism, a Black Issues Conference, and an International Festival. I didn’t write down how the library is involved, which is a bummer, but I can contact the librarians who spoke about these programs and events. The campus and the library seem very engaged in diversity efforts.

Chapman University, which has an emphasis on global citizenship, has a very robust exhibit program focused on diversity in its Leatherby Libraries. Essraa Nawar (check out her TED Talk!), the library development coordinator, explained that she has had great success in pairing fundraising with diversity efforts. I was so blown away by the sorts of donors and exhibits they have had at Chapman that I didn’t even write down a single example.

I was so happy to see folks from California State University Fresno! I’m a CSU graduate–both for my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and Fresno is just south of Merced. I was also very impressed with the Henry Madden Library‘s diversity work both in and outside the library. Click here to see the library’s diversity committee Facebook page. The committee supports the university’s mission to promote and celebrate diversity through library programming and exhibits, LGBTQ Allies, Library Diversity Lounge, Meditation and Prayer Room, and International Coffee Hour Presentations.

Educating the Educators: Proactive Approaches to the Inclusive Classroom

This session was comprised of two individual presentations. The first presentation was given by Paula M. Smith from Penn State Abington and focused on the Global Awareness Dialogue Project (GADP). GADP is a faculty development program that engages faculty in the exchange of ideas about contemporary global issues in education, with an emphasis on non-Western educational systems. The sessions are three hours long and are open to 20 or so faculty members who register for the program.

After Smith introduced the session, we were asked to complete The Numbers Exercise, which was developed by Roxanna Senyshyn and Marianne Brandt. Essentially, it’s a list of simple math problems, but the directions indicate that subtract means to multiply; divide means to add; add means to divide; and multiply means to subtract. So 12 x 2 really means 12-2. After a few minutes, Smith asked how we felt completing the worksheet. I said it was stressful. The idea behind this is that this is the sort of frustration international and immigrant students feel navigating American academic life.

Smith then discussed the types of GADP sessions they have had at the university. In one program,  a panel of international and immigrant students, representing East Asian, African, South Asian, and Middle Eastern backgrounds, were able to tell faculty members about some struggles they have had in the classroom. For example, Chinese students were not familiar with cursive. Students were Googling the characters one by one! The students also said they felt stupid because many of their classmates would leave exams early. Chinese students, if given 30 minutes, will use the whole time. There are also some challenges about what academic integrity means in a western framework. What a wonderful way to include student voices and help faculty foster more inclusive classrooms.

I’m really itching to talk to someone about this, but being so new, I’m not sure it’s appropriate for me. However, the person in charge of Center for Engaged Teaching and Learning is also new. We actually sat next to each other at the new employee orientation.

One neat thing I jotted down that was a result of one of the GADP sessions was that faculty members who speak more than one language started putting little stickers (or signs) on their windows/doors that said, “My name is_____. I speak ________.” How fabulous! I’m thinking about doing that underneath the name plate on my office window.

The second presentation was given by Shannon Simpson from Johns Hopkins University. She helped developed the Toolkit for Inclusive Learning Environments (TILE), which is a toolkit of “best practices [and] a repository of specific examples that all faculty are welcome to replicate or re-use.”

Simpson shared a sample assignment that professors/librarians teaching information literacy, business, marketing, and communication could use. It’s a simple but effective assignment. “In 2014 a food and entertainment public relations firm called Strange Fruit was the subject of a media backlash. Ask the students to Google the term strange fruit to see why.” (I literally gasped out loud that no one at this company knew what this meant!) Students then answer these questions:

  • To what does the term refer?
  • Where did the term originate and who has used it since then?
  • What would you tell this firm if during the media firestorm they had come to you for advice?

During the session, we also did a pair-share in which we came up with groups or people we could partner with to share about TILE, such as a diversity committee, student life/affinity groups, teaching and learning groups, university departments, human resources, provost/president’s office, and other relevant people or groups. I plan to share this resource with the Center for Engaged Teaching and Learning. I will probably also share this resource with some of the writing lecturers I know who I think would be interested in this. I also plan to ask my colleagues from ACRL’s Instruction for Diverse Populations Committee if we can add this resource to the bibliography; the general resources section is a great catch-all.

Why We Stay: The Motivation of Veteran Underrepresented Minority Academic Librarians

I actually met Antonia (Toni) Olivas trying to find where the keynote address was going to be held, and I am glad I was able to attend the session she was moderating. While Olivas was completing her dissertation on motivational theory, she realized she wanted to do a larger project and decided to edit a book. Choosing to Lead: The Motivational Factors of Underrepresented Minority Librarians in Higher Education will be published in early 2017, and I can’t wait to read it.

At the beginning of the session, Olivas briefly discussed Chan and Drasgow’s (2001) Motivation to Lead (MTL), which includes personality, values, self-efficacy, and previous experience. Motivational identities include affective, social normative, and non-calculative. Most minority librarians stay in the profession due to these identities.

This panel was organized around the themes of the chapters in Olivas’ book. The panelists included Shannon Jones, Oscar Baeza, and Binh P Le. Each gave advice or their perspective based on the themes of the chapters. I actually found this to be a very applicable session, and I honestly feel like the advice is helpful for all new and early career librarians.

Chapter 1, for example, is on self-development, and Jones explained that librarians should have a strategic plan for themselves. Write your own SWOT analysis and make a three-year career road map. I haven’t actually done this before. I have had goals and met them and made new goals, but I’ve not ever done this systematically. This is definitely a project I need to undertake this semester, especially as I have started a new job.

Chapter 2 is on knowing yourself. Baeza explained that librarians should know who they are, including knowing their strengths and weaknesses and where they come from. He emphasized family history. I find this to be absolutely true. Every time I begin to think of myself as not being successful, I remind myself that my family is proud of me. That is enough. I am so thankful for the support they have given me, even if they didn’t understand what I was doing.

Chapter 3 is on trust. Le said it plainly, “People need to trust you in order for you to lead.”

Chapter 4 is on family impact. This sort of goes with chapter 2 for me. Jones shared a beautiful story about her grandmother wanting her grandchildren to go to college, to do the things she was not given the opportunity to do as black woman born in 1912. Jones’ grandmother had a seventh grade education. She had a saying that if people wanted to keep things from black people, they would put them in books. She cultivated a culture of reading, taking her grandchildren to the library and teaching them that they should look for answers to questions. It was so touching to hear Jones talk about the impact her grandmother made on her life.

Chapter 5 is on support groups. Jones mentioned that mentors are “for a reason and a season.” I find this to be true. Currently, I realize I am in need of a couple of new mentors. She also mentioned that mentors advise and friends inspire. Certainly, your mentor should be a cheerleader in some ways, but constructive criticism is needed, too.The other thing Jones said that I found particularly inspiring was to be brave enough to walk through doors people open for you. I was intimidated about starting my new job, but then I heard from one of my references about a conversation she had had with the folks here. Without saying too much, I knew it would be both a place where I could help the library meet its goals and mission and also grow as person and professional. Jones also advised that we ought to open doors for others. If you are in the position of being a mentor, be honest, realistic, responsive, and create an exit strategy for the mentorship for both yourself and the person you are mentoring if it doesn’t work out. s

Chapter 6 has to do with involvement. Some of the most fulfilling experiences for me have been participating in campus and national committees. I am really glad that I didn’t shy away from contributing where I could in my previous job, and I am also finding ways to contribute at my new employer, both in the library and university-wide. Le really spoke well when he said committee work is not something we should avoid but actively seek out, even if it means you have to ask how you can contribute if there isn’t a specific call.

Chapter 7 is on preventing burn out. I know this is the area where I struggle. The panelists all emphasized that self-care is essential, and each shared some ways that they blow off steam or find inspiration, from keeping thank you notes to finding non-library people to you can vent to. Jones also advised that we ought to be selective about projects we take on. Some questions to ask yourself include whether an opportunity fits within your plan and/or if you can do it well in addition to your other duties and responsibilities

We skipped a couple of chapters to wrap up the session, but one of the last words of advice I wrote down was that it’s okay to sell yourself and toot your own horn.

The Library as Connector: Creating Collaborative Outreach Opportunities for Diverse Student Populations

I was really interested in attending this session because one of the people on the ACRL committee I am on works at University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and I also wanted to see my fellow University of California colleagues Roberto Delgadillo and Robin Gustafson from the University Library at UC Davis. This was a fantastic session!

The UNLV University Libraries have done fantastic work with the LGBT community at the university and area high schools. I was impressed, and it was good to know that the library is helping students who may be struggling with their identity find a place where they can be themselves and be successful college students.

The presenters introduced research about why it is important for them to work with LGBTQ students. GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey “… has consistently indicated that a safer school climate directly relates to the availability of LGBT school-based resources and support, including Gay-Straight Alliances, inclusive curriculum, supportive school staff, and comprehensive anti-bullying policies.” The presenters briefly asked if anyone in the audience had seen the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Ask Me video. I have, and it is very moving. In the video, LGBTQ students express what they want their professors to know. Lastly, the presenters shared a book called Student Success in College: Creating Conditions That Matter (2010). Not only can the library “play a big role by providing student access to LGBTQ people, history, and events through library and internet sources,” but we can also build a community where students can pursue education and learning with less fear. Click here to check out the UNLV University Libraries’ LGBTQIA LibGuide.

In order to build community, the University Libraries have had some really neat events. For example, for this year’s REMixed Week (as a culturally mixed person, I was really excited to see this), the Lied Library, in collaboration with UNLV’s¬† Center for Social Justice, MEChA, Jean Nidetch Women’s Center, Gender and Sexuality Studies, University, and Students Organizing Diversity Activities (SODA), held a paint party and screening of Transvisible: The Bamby Salcedo Story. The library also participated in the Coming Out Carnival and GSA Talent Show. They also held a Banned Books Buffet Book Tasting, which was an interactive, self-paced event that highlighted books censored for various reasons. The library also has helped foster partnerships between the University’s GSA and the GSAs at area high schools.

The presentation from from UC Davis focused on how the library aligned its diversity goals to the campus goals by creating strategic partnerships to empower all students. This presentation was interesting because it included mini presentations from the director for the new Strategic Chicana/o and Latina/o Retention Initiatives and the director for Academic Services in the¬† the Athletics department at UC Davis, who touched on how the library has been assisting in their efforts to aid Latino students and student-athletes. While the University doesn’t yet have a center for Chicana/o and Latina/o students yet, it does have a Center for African Diaspora Student Success and plans to open a Native American student center and a center for Chicana/o and Latina/o students. (Click here to see a list of multicultural resources available at UC Davis.) In reaching the student-athletes, the library has helped in a life skills class that is designed for athletes but is not required. In the class, the library has given workshops and gone over services, such as the 24/7 chat service. The library also has allowed the football team to have evening study sessions. The Academic Services director from the Athletics Department let participants know that every athletics department has academic services staff and suggested getting in contact to form a collaboration to reach student-athletes.

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.

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.

Community Giving & World Relief

This isn‚Äôt a library post, but we librarians sure love our communities‚ÄĒthe ones we work with and the ones we live in.

With Thanksgiving and the Christmas season around the corner, I have a lot on my mind, but not parties, presents, and pleasantries. I have been thinking about people in distress in my local community and about the Syrian refugee crisis and what we can do to help. (Even before the American backlash after the Paris attack, I followed the refugee story. A few years ago, I read The Story of My Life: An Afghan Girl on the Other Side of the Sky, and I became very interested in refugees around the world. )

My husband and I are very big proponent of giving our finances and time. For both college and graduate school, I received scholarships from donors, so I give to both my alma maters, California State University Stanislaus (I also work here part-time) and San José State University, and I also give to the community college I work for, Merced College.  I don’t talk about this much, but we also give to our church, Crossroads Church, so that we can help carry out the work to assist people in need.  We also give to the Modesto Gospel Mission, a local homeless shelter, and to Second Harvest Foodbank of San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties. And if my bio says NPR listener, you bet I give to Capital Public Radio. We also do various one-time donations for issues that come up throughout the year.

Regarding the refugee situation, I wanted to highlight World Relief Modesto, another organization we donate to. World Relief helps resettle refugees that are placed in Modesto. My first encounter with World Relief was actually seeing them in action in the community when I was working part-time at my local library, Stanislaus County Library. A World Relief volunteer was showing an Ethiopian man the public library. I was so impacted that I, at one point, applied for a job with World Relief. I didn’t get the job, mostly because they knew how much I loved libraries. I really believe in the work they do. If you can give to a similar organization in your area, please do!

What causes, charities, or other groups do you donate your time or finances to? What issues are close to your heart? Besides libraries, of course.

“Get a Life in Which You Are Generous”

In May, the TED-Ed blog had a post called “10 Inspiring Commencement Speeches About Creativity and Courage.” The post features little blurbs from the speeches, but you can read the speeches in their entirety, which I haven’t yet, by clicking on the names of the speakers.

Here are some of the blurbs that stick out to me:

-From Maya Angelou:¬†“Speak to people you don‚Äôt know. Say good morning, good morning. You have no idea what you may have done for someone. She may have just hung up the phone from having a nurse say, ‘Miss Jones, the doctor wants you to come back in, he‚Äôs not satisfied with these X-rays.’ You don‚Äôt know.”

I think about this when I am in contact with customer service people. I think about this when I am helping students at the library, too. We don’t know all of their stories, but to quote our retired library media technician, “Each one has a story.”

If you’re looking for something specific you can do in this regard, a newer friend of mine who teaches third grade says¬†one positive thing to five people a day.

-From Shonda Rimes: “Focus on something outside yourself.”

My service to the community has definitely suffered during the last year or two.¬†While I don’t talk about it much, my faith is important to me, but I have been passive about it the last year or two, so I think there’s a correlation there. It might just honestly be my struggle to adapt to the commuter life.

-From Anna Quindlen: “Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work. Each time you look at your diploma, remember that you are still a student, still learning how to best treasure your connection to others. Pick up the phone. Send an email. Write a letter. Kiss your Mom. Hug your Dad. Get a life in which you are generous.”

I’m definitely learning how to “best treasure my connection to others.” I have a friend with chronic¬†illness who has written about the time she spent¬†on academics before becoming very ill. (She was the graduate assistant at the Writing Center when I was an undergraduate, and we were both hired full-time at the community college district at the same time.) I have never told her how much that post hit home. It¬†really made me re-evaluate myself,¬†how obsessive my career has become. She writes:

Part of that drive was never ever taking time off and I neglected my friends, family, hobbies, myself. I could never just slow down and enjoy life. I’m still learning this lesson but I’m getting there. I’ve had to reevaluate my values also. My value doesn’t reside only in work and achievement. I look at my husband napping on our couch spooning our cat and that fills me with bliss. I watch crappy tv with my parents and know that time is valuable. I play board games with friends and destroy them (with love and tenderness). We taunt each other and ridicule each other’s mothers, and it’s brilliant. When I make hard choices to protect my health, I see value. It’s cliché, but I learned a good, difficult lesson the last two years that was invaluable: focusing just on a career is a zero-sum game. I am already surrounded by what fulfills me.

I definitely started to view things like family, friends, and exercise as “things to focus on when I am not busy,” which meant I wasn’t investing in these important things. I am going out a little more, spending time with friends and family. I am not great at it, but I am trying to change my habits.

I really like¬†Quindlen’s idea about writing a letter to people. Earlier this summer, I sent a card via snail mail to a friend of mine who has been having a rough time. It cheered her up. While there was a time in my life that I really enjoyed making cards, I now have a ready-supply of blank note cards handy, mostly for thank you cards, but I¬†think I will go on a monthly card-writing campaign now. I can commit to 12 cards.

How do you live generously? Is it something you struggle with?

I’m off to celebrate my sister who is another year older today. We’re not really doing anything special, but regular life is special. ‚̧