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

Los Banos Info Flyer (for Faculty)

Just the Highlights

Librarian Design Share

Library informational handouts and brochures–the kind we give away at orientations, fairs, and workshops–can easily suffer from the classic librarian pitfall: TOO MUCH INFORMATION. Striking the right balance between needed information and visual interest is a challenge. Lindsay Davis, librarian at the Los Banos Campus Library at Merced College has created informational flyers for students and faculty that touch on all the library “highlights,” those crucial services and bits of information that will make the most impact with library users.

Los Banos Info Flyer (for Students) Flyer for Students

Here’s Lindsay discussing her design:

This is the beginning of my third academic year as the Los Banos Campus Librarian of Merced College, a community college located in California’s Central Valley. When I give an instructional session, I usually give out a handout that covers basic library information printed in black and white on muted yellow card stock (we only have a few color options through duplication…

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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 LibrarianDesignShare.org, 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.

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.

Smore

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!

Psychology

August 2015 Library Displays

This isn’t anything mind blowing as far as libraries go, but I really believe in the power of displays in showcasing not only resources but also getting library users to discover a new topic or idea they might not think up on their own.

My library is two thousand square feet, and our campus serves about 1800 students. We don’t have a lot of space for displays, but I use all the nooks and crannies and sometimes a book cart parked by the research help desk. I mostly use the lower reference shelving underneath a giant window, which, unfortunately, is in the back of the library, but it’s closest to the main bank of study tables.

There is a section within the higher reference shelving I’ve carved out with shifting and weeding. It’s the space I have dubbed Major Idea in which I’ll be displaying books and databases related to a topic or idea within a major offered by the college. First up is psychology.

It’s not pictured, but I also am advertising the services offered by the academic counselors and our new career counselor for those interested in the psychology major and/or careers in psychology. I also have a college catalog on display. (When I went to check on the display the next day, the illustrated Interpretation of Dreams had been checked out! )

Psychology

August 18th was the 95th anniversary of the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. August 26th is Women’s Equality Day, which celebrates the 19th Amendment’s ratification.

Women's Equality Day

Since I snapped this photo, I’ve shuffled things around and also added resources about the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Act banned racial discrimination in elections, which enfranchised more women and men of color, especially in the South. It’s an incomplete story without this bit of history.

Here is the online flyer for Women’s Equality Day and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Since we’re in California’s Central Valley, drought has been ever-present the last few years. Both college campuses have brown lawns, and we’re proud! I put up a display about water and drought materials, a quick list of relevant websites and databases, and I incorporated some interactivity by asking how students cut back on water usage this summer. Since it’s in an awkward spot, I didn’t expect more answers beyond my own example on a Post-It, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Water Conservation Drought Websites Drought Ideas

This year, I’m going to see if I can get our student workers and staff to participate in some displays. Now that I have evening colleagues, I asked one of them if she’d like to do the Banned Books display this September. It’s always a fun one to do, but September is just really busy with many other events, displays, and information

Library Services Flyer Aimed at Faculty

I go back to the community college library tomorrow. I’m looking forward to the new year. I have some fun ideas to work on, and I am feeling more confident about my abilities. It also helps to let go of those things you cannot control or all the things you wish you could do but can’t for any number of reasons, etc.

I meant to have a flyer for library services aimed at faculty ready to go by Monday, but I won’t be ordering the flyers through the college’s Print Services department until tomorrow. Since I work at the smaller of the college district’s campuses, our mail gets delivered through a courier once a day. I should get them by the end of the week. Here’s what I did through Canva, which is one of my absolute favorite tools I use at work.

Aim Your Students for Research Success

I also plan to update our flyer for students (it’s actually half-page size). For the last two years, I have only ordered it in black and white on light yellow card stock as it cuts back on costs, but it doesn’t match my style or the culture I’ve worked so hard to mold the last two years. I’m hoping to create something similar to the one I made for faculty this year. I’ll work on it this week while waiting for the faculty flyer.