Goodbye Pt. 2

I had a truly wonderful send-off from Merced College this last week. I felt so loved, which is definitely not something most people can probably say about their workplace.

On Wednesday, I attended my last librarian meeting at the main campus. The Learning Resources Center always has a potluck on the last Wednesday before the spring term ends, so I attended that after our meeting. My colleagues surprised me with the most gorgeous, mixing bowl-sized succulent garden that was designed by our landscape horticulture professors. They know how much I love succulents, and it’s going to be perfect in my new office. I also got a really nice card signed by all of the library faculty and staff. Our part-time librarian Karrie got me some delicious root beer glazed almonds and an olive verbena candle that smells divine. I spent the afternoon doing my checkout procedure. Thankfully, I took a photo of my staff ID because the card gets cut in half when you turn it in!

Thursday was my last day at the Los Banos Campus Library. Janet, our library media bookstore technician, had a lovely spread of goodies. Faculty, staff, and our dean came by to say goodbye, have dessert, and filled out a notebook with goodbye notes. I really was touched by the messages, especially those by our student workers. I read the messages when I got home. I also got a nice going away gift from Janet and one of our part-time librarians, Leigh-Ann.

It’s not so much the stuff I got, but the thought everyone put into saying goodbye. One of the best things about working at the Los Banos Campus and having a small cohort of librarian colleagues is having such a tight-knit community.

On Friday, I spent time with some of my Los Banos Campus faculty colleagues at our annual pre-graduation gathering held at a former Los Banos professor’s home in Merced. From there, we headed out to the graduation ceremony. I made sure to get photos in this year!

My first day at my new job is on Wednesday, and I am super excited for this new chapter in my career.

 

Goodbye Pt. 1

Last Friday was my last campus faculty meeting for the school year and Los Banos Campus‘ Merit and Awards Ceremony. A couple of weeks before the official Merced College graduation ceremony, we honor Los Banos students who are graduating (this was my second and last year to read the names), scholarship recipients (I was on the committee in 2014/2015 and 2015/2016), and Student of the Month and Year winners (I was on the committee in 2014/2015 and 2015/2016). We also honor a staff member as the Los Banos Campus Classified Staff Member of the Year, and one of my good friends, our Student Services Assistant, won the well-deserved honor.

What I didn’t expect was a little going-away recognition. Our faculty lead presented me and a colleague who is moving to the main campus with lovely matted photos of the Los Banos with nice messages written by our colleagues on the mat. We have wonderful staff and faculty members in Los Banos. I am going to miss this tight-knit team. I will definitely be hanging this in my new office.

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But it’s not goodbye quite yet. We still have graduation at the end of the month where I will don my Masters hood one last time with my colleagues as we celebrate our students’ successes. I’ve had months to process my move, but I think I’m going to need waterproof mascara.

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.

Leading from the Middle

I’m not a library manager. I don’t have a budget, and faculty members like me don’t supervise staff, but my immediate supervisor is the dean of my campus, not the library director at the main campus. She, the library director, the other librarians at the main campus, and the staff I work with throughout the day realize the weird position I am in. I am the only full-time employee.

There are so many employee changes in store this coming academic year. In April, we hired two part-time librarians to help cover evening  hours when I leave work. Both these ladies are working this summer (I have a 10-month contract), and I am so happy to have the extra help and assistance for our students in our much busier fall season. Our part-time library media technician just retired after 27 years of service, and one of our part-time library media bookstore clerks (the bookstore is in the library) just got a great new job at the local University of California (UC). We have one remaining library media bookstore clerk. The dean is really going to push for a full-time library media technician position, and I think we have a good shot at getting it, but, in the meantime, our substitute library clerk will be filling in, and I think our new retiree may  be helping through September.

I lead from the middle, so to speak. I do have a vision for a more friendly space. I have very slowly been making changes over the last two years to help cultivate the library as a campus hub, and now that I know what needs to happen and what kind of stuff works, delegating will be easier. I sense excitement with our remaining team, and I am looking forward to getting to know our future new people and discovering what people like to do and what they want to learn more about. This is my first professional librarian job, and I just wouldn’t have been ready for such a big change in my first or second year.

With that, I am really thinking I might need to do a little more reading about leadership. I found this great little article from Lifehacker, “Become a Stronger Leader by Asking Yourself These Three Questions” that made me take pause. The questions are:

1. What am I not saying that needs to be said?

2. What am I saying that’s not being heard?

3. What’s being said that I’m not hearing?

Which questions would you add? Someone in the comments from the Lifehacker article gave this little gem, “What is best unsaid?” Isn’t that the truth? I think I might even make a little note with these for my desk.